2 August 2015
Indigenous communities are deeply divided as the Conaie coalition began its march protesting against the government.
Hundreds of indigenous Ecuadoreans began a planned march to the capital, Quito, on Sunday.
It comes just a day after the government announced that almost 1,000 social organizations in the country have chosen to participate in the government-backed national dialogue, which was established after weeks of sometimes violent protests in June.
80% support dialogue
“Eighty percent of the population says that dialogue is the (right) mechanism and welcomes the governmental proposal. About 75 percent of Ecuadoreans acknowledge that it could help a lot the country, which has registered major advances over the past eight years,” said General Secretary of Planning and Development Pabel Muñoz in Yaruqui, a rural village in the east of Quito.
Muñoz announced Saturday that the government has managed to bring together 995 organizations from social and political movements across the country in less than a month and half.
A democratic approach to differences
“We are talking with whoever thinks differently, with whoever has proposals in some controversial cases, but what matters is to eventually find points of agreement and knowing how to give a democratic treatment to our disagreements.”
“At least 9,000 citizens, including doctors, students, professors, community leaders and farmers have joined the talks,” added the state official.
A minority seeks confrontation
However, despite government overtures to reach out to different sectors of Ecuadorean society, on Sunday, hundreds of indigenous Ecuadoreans led by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, known by the acronym Conaie, started a march from El Pangui toward the capital — some 600 kilometers — to participate in the Aug. 13 general strike against the government of President Rafael Correa.
Marchers use slogans of the right-wing demonstrators
During the march, AFP reported that indigenous protesters blocked roads, while others could be heard shouting, “Out, Correa, Out!,” a common refrain of the right-wing and upper-class opposition demonstrators who initiated a wave of anti-government protests in June. Those demonstrations, ostensibly about tax reforms for the super-rich, often turned violent, despite Correa’s suspension of the laws pending a national debate on wealth redistribution.
“They have the right to march, not to paralyze the country,” said Rafael Correa, referring to the most recent protests called by Conaie.
Conaie President Jorge Herrera told the press, “We do not need to sit down again to analyze our demands. We have had enough time to do this, and to debate, but we are insisting on marching. At this point, our organization in the Conaie assembly has said no to the dialogue.”
Conaie has called for an “indigenous uprising” in support of the national strike, but it has proven controversial among many indigenous groups.
The strike will include factions that have traditionally been opposed to indigenous rights, like right-wing organizations, business and upper class sectors, who strongly reject the recent redistribution bills on inheritance.
The real aim of the march
The government said has said the strike is “illegal,” and aims to take down the democratically elected president.
While Conaie insists that marching in the streets is the only way to make their demands heard, a number of other indigenous organizations have questioned their motives for marching in alliance with right-wing factions.
“Everyone needs to know that Conaie is not the only indigenous voice in the country,” Franklin Columba, leader of the National Confederation of Campesino, Indigenous and Black Organizations (Fenocin) told teleSUR English. “We as a national organization are not going to lend ourselves to playing the right’s game.”
The situation is increasingly tense in Ecuador, as two leaflet bombs were detonated close to two different newspapers last week, including one affiliated with the government, prompting President Correa to denounce the bombs as part of a wider strategy to destabilize the country.
Source: Ecuador: 995 Groups Join National Dialogue Despite Protests TeleSUR