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Date: Fri, 20 Jan 1995 16:50:56 CST6CDT
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Subject: interview-Ecuador
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Original Sender: randolin@polisci.umn.edu (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 as possible.

Thank you.
Robert Andolina

[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 UPCCC.

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, "N'ucanchic Huasi."

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
Casilla 1717-1235
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

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