January 7, 2015
Quito — The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE)—an autonomous indigenous organization, independent of political parties, or any state, foreign or religious institution—is at risk.
Yesterday, approximately 500 indigenous peoples from around Ecuador gathered to protest the government decision to that would make CONAIE vacate their offices. There were confrontations with police during the demonstration, resulting in the use of police batons and tear gas.
The government claims it needs the site (where CONAIE has operated for more than 20 years) under the pretext that the Ministry of Social Welfare needs the location to implement a program for at-risk youth. CONAIE has appealed the decision, which requires the government to take up to two months to make a final decision.
CONAIE members have crafted a petition which would give the indigenous peoples of Ecuador a permanent, legal space to gather and use according to their needs.
Following yesterday's demonstration, there are plans to have indigenous leaders on a continuous rotation so there is always a strong indigenous presence at the office.