News | 12-11-2014
Kimsacocha Ecuador Sweden Indigenous Peoples

Ecuadorian human rights defender visits Sweden

FIAN Sweden hosts the Indigenous leader Miriam Chuchuca from Kimsakocha (Ecuador) this month in a national tour to raise awareness about the ten-year long struggle of the communities against the establishment of a mine in the wetlands of Kimsakocha.

Photo © Maria Starck.

Kimsakocha means three lagoons in the indigenous peoples' language, Quechua, and metal deposits are located in the middle of a water source that supplies more than 30,000 peasants.

For several years, the mining company (IAMGOLD first - in which the Swedish National Pension Funds had millions of dollars invested in the company by the end of 2013 -, and later the subsidiary INV Metals) explored the area where Miriam Chuchuca lives.

Though the exploration has been favourable and it expects to extract large amounts of gold in the coming years, it threatens peasants' access to both water and food, and thousands of people will have to move from their land if the company poisons or dries out the lagoons in Kimsakocha.

The victims are human rights defenders who are currently being oppressed by regressive laws allowing the authorities to detain people involved in the protests. From the time the struggle began it has not been easy for the women, since they have been subjected to oppression. Miriam Chuchuca, as many other women in Kimsacocha who are the foundation for the struggle, is one of the brave women who brought this struggle forward.

"We have protested and struggled. The police has beaten and shot tear gas at us. When we protested against the mining law, it was almost like a war. It was war", says Miriam.

The criminalization of social protests have fragmented peasants' struggles and weakened the economic and solidarity initiatives for women's struggle. Now the women do not dare to risk days in jail because that means they would have to be away from home, children and animals.

Moreover, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) has directed strong criticism against Ecuador and urged the government to respect local people's will and rights.

The tour includes the following key events: 

For more information or if you want an interview, please contact Rebecka Jalvemyr

FIAN has worked in various ways with the Kimsakocha case, both in Sweden with "AP-fonderna", the Swedish National Pension Funds campaign, but also in Ecuador, with the support of the human rights defenders who lifted the case at international level before the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) in Geneva.