On November 17, thousands of indigenous and environmental activists rallied across Ecuador in protest against the introduction of a new mining law by the government of President Rafael Correa.
The protests, organised largely by the Confederation of Indigenous
Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE — Ecuador's largest indigenous
federation), marked the beginning of a week of protests by social,
environmental and indigenous movements against the potentially
environmentally destructive consequences of a number of proposed new
laws — including laws relating to mining, water and the introduction of
large-scale shrimp farming.
Ecuador's weak economy is heavily dependent upon mineral extraction —
especially oil — and this has had a catastrophic effect on the
environment and communities in affected areas.
A large part of the Ecuadorian Amazon is now being described as an
"Amazonian chernobyl" after 18 billion gallons of polluted water were
released into the water system by oil-giant Chevron Texaco. This has
resulted in thousands of deaths, cancer, birth defects and massive
Affected communities are currently pursuing Chevron in court.