QUITO – At least 6,000 Ecuadorian Indians participated Thursday in a protest march against a controversial bill that opponents claim could lead to the privatization of water.
The Indians, from several different provinces, gathered during the morning in two Quito parks from where they started their march to the National Assembly building.
The president of the Assembly, Fernando Cordero, allowed some of the Indians to enter the zone reserved for the public in the Assembly chamber, although the rest remained outside in a public square.
The demonstration occurred on the eve of the expiration of the period within which the legislative committee reviewing the bill must present its report.
However, Cordero decided to postpone that report, according to what an Assembly official told Efe, without providing a new date on which it must be delivered.
The head of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities, or Conaie, Marlon Santi, said Monday that the protest, which began in Riobamba, is the beginning of a series of protests by his group, which will gradually increase nationwide.
“On (April) 17, we’re going to decorate the communities in the provinces with flags and we’re going to put the national flag into mourning because the homeland doesn’t belong to everyone,” said Santi, referring to one of the government’s slogans that says that “the homeland is for everyone.”
In addition, Conaie announced that it is conducting talks with the second-largest Indian organization in the country, Fenocin, which had been allied with the government but which now has distanced itself.
Fenocin leader Luis Andrango said that on April 9, Fenocin will hold an assembly of its top leaders to officially define its stance vis-a-vis the government and decide whether to call for demonstrations.
Andrango said that Fenocin is concerned that the bill including profound changes promised by the government, which they supported for more than three years, “is getting farther away than it was in the beginning.” EFE