Date: Fri, 20 Jan 1995 16:50:56 CST6CDT
"NATIVE-L Aboriginal Peoples: news & information" <NATIVE-L@tamvm1.tamu.edu>
To: Multiple recipients of list NATIVE-L <NATIVE-L@tamvm1.tamu.edu>
Original Sender: email@example.com (Robert Andolina)
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Interview with Luis Chumbo Yungo, Manuel Caguano Pinguil and
Alberto Saeteros of the Provincial Union of Cooperatives and
Indigenous Communities of Ca'nar (UPCCC)
With Robert Andolina
20 January 1995
Below is a copy of an interview I did in August with indigenous
activists in the province of Ca'nar, Ecuador. As will be explained
below, their office and community center were attacked and severely
damaged during the indigenous mobilization there this past summer.
Please consider sending them a donation to help them rebuild.
Parts of this interview, along with a report on the mobilization in
general, appear in the most recent edition of the journal of SAIIC,
"Abya Yala News." (Volume 8, No. 3). Please send this interview to
other e-mail networks. Generally, get this out to as many people
[During the recent indigenous "Mobilization for Life" in Ecuador,
the office of UPCCC experienced a vicious attack on the part of
anti-indigenous forces in the province of Ca'nar. The office, also
an important community center, was almost completely destroyed.
Luis Chumbo Yungo is Vice-President of UPCCC, while Alberto
Saeteros is Secretary. Manuel Caguano Pinguil is ex-President.
UPCCC is the provincial level indigenous organization of Ca'nar,
and is affiliated with CONAIE (Confederation of Indigenous
Nationalities of Ecuador)]
RA: Please offer a brief synopsis of the history and purpose of
Manuel: UPCCC has been in existence for 25 to 30 years. Initially,
the organization was involved in the formation of cooperatives and
in the struggle for land. As we achieved some success in this, our
objectives turned to the commercialization of our products,
especially wheat. We have also stressed the need to provide
education to the indigenous people of Ca'nar, and to have more
indigenous professionals, such as teachers, lawyers, etc.
RA: Tell us a bit about the office/community center of UPCCC,
Luis: Well, first it should be pointed out that the center served
the entire Ca'nar community, not only indigenous people. It
included a hospital, an alternative food/product market, a
carpentry center, a library of Andean culture, a computer center,
a radio station, a research and education center, fax and photocopy
machines, five vehicles, and all kinds of furniture. I should add
that there are very few people in Ca'nar don't have a piece of
furniture made in our carpentry center. We also rented out space
in the center to people for weddings, ceremonies, and various other
sorts of events.
Manuel: The basic purpose of the center was to serve as an
alternative form of education, commerce, medicine, etc. that is
more suited to the needs and realities of the indigenous people and
other popular sectors in Ca'nar.
RA: Why did the attack take place? Who was involved?
Alberto: As you know we participated fully in the mobilization
called by CONAIE. This was in opposition to the recently passed
Agrarian Development Law that was authored by the Social Christian
Party (PSC), whose leader is Jaime Nebot. Sixto (Sixto Dur'an
Ballen - President of Ecuador) of course approved the law as it was
not at all different from the law he had proposed earlier. This
law was both illegal and threatening to the interests of indigenous
people. It did not take into account our needs. We blocked the
main highways in the area and cut the area off. Because we were
winning in the struggle, the followers of Nebot and the PSC decided
to take desperate action and attack us. But it was not just
because of the mobilization. It was also because with our
alternative market, in which we cut out the "middleman" in the sale
of our products, we were competing with the speculators living in
the area, many of whom are followers of Nebot. As well, we were
attacked because of long-standing racism toward indigenous people.
RA: What happened during the attack itself?
Alberto: First I want to say that the attack was carefully
orchestrated by a relatively small group of people. It was not the
general population that was against us, nor were we against them.
This group told all sorts of lies in order to make us look bad and
to justify what they did. We never attacked the markets, nor
poisoned the water like they claimed. The attack itself was very
violent. They came with pistols, homemade cannons, and tear gas.
One of our activists, Manuel Mesi'as Yupa Yupa died from a bullet
wound in the head. We also had 38 injuries and a number of
disappearances. Many people are still unaccounted for. In
addition, the community center was burned, sacked, and destroyed.
RA: What did the police/military do during the attack?
Alberto: They did almost nothing to prevent or inhibit the attack.
Moreover, the military shut down our radio station which made it
difficult for us to communicate to tell the people what was
happening. Indigenous leaders have been pursued and in some cases
jailed. Right now we are conducting investigations into the action
of the police and military during the attack and during the
mobilization as a whole.
RA: What was damaged during the attack?
Alberto: Everything. Nothing was left untouched. The damage total
has exceeded 10 Billion sucres ($5 Million).
RA: UPCCC has argued that the government is in part responsible for
the damages, and you have demanded that the government offer
compensation. Have you received any financial help from the state?
Alberto: No. We haven't received a cent.
RA: Have you received assistance from other sources?
Alberto: A little. Some popular sectors have offered assistance
both in terms of money and labor to help us rebuild. We have a
couple of new machines in the carpentry center, and we should soon
have a new FAX machine. But as you can see, this is a very small
part of the re-building that needs to be done. For this reason, we
are calling on our allies and sympathizers here in Ecuador and in
the international community to show their solidarity by sending us
financial support so that we can rebuild our office and community
center. Many people here will benefit if we can rebuild.
RA: Any final comments?
Alberto: Yes. This attack was in part motivated by a desire on the
part of our enemies to break the will of the indigenous leadership
and the movement here in Ca'nar. Although our office is destroyed,
our determination is not. We will continue with our struggle. In
fact, we are more determined and unified than ever.
If you would like to contribute to the re-building of the office
and community center of UPCCC, please send a Cashier's Check, made
out to UPCCC, to:
Av. de Los Granados 2553 y 6 de Diciembre
El Batan - Quito
You should specify on the check that the money is for UPCCC.
Please conceal the check in a letter to minimize the risk of mail
thievery. Also, it would be helpful to send a note (by mail or
FAX) to UPCCC to inform them that you have sent a check to CONAIE
Correo Central Ca'nar
Ca'nar - Ecuador
FAX: (593-7) 235-266