World Social Forum 2016: Ecuadorian women say NO to EU-Ecuador free trade agreement

Statement of Ecuadorian women in resistance to extractivism delivered by Susanna Castilla to the activity “What would a healthy trade agreement look like?” at the 2016 World Social Forum
12 August 2016
Montreal, Canada (via Skype)

Susana Castillo is a member of PHM-Ecuador, engaged with the psychosocial research and action collective. She ia representative of the platform Ecuador Decides: No to FTAs. Susana has attended meetings of the European Parliament’s monitoring group and lobby meetings of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations to monitor the impacts of a free trade agreement between the European Union and Ecuador.

We look to you as indigenous women, peasants and defenders of human rights and the nature that we put our lives in promoting local initiatives that are conceal by our governments and are threatened by free trade agreements, treaties for the Protection of Investments and other ways in which is expressed the corporate plunder.

We come from processes of reflection and effective practices to feed, care for and heal humanity from climate impacts and war.

Nevertheless, in our country extractive mining and petroleum activity, agribusiness, construction of mega-infrastructure and a frenetic urbanization expands and deepens. It advances into people’s territories and communities where life is reproduced and where close social ties, based in society and community, persist.

The implementation of a Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and Ecuador only exacerbates this situation, since its primary purpose is to benefit preferentially  export sectors of bananas, flowers, shrimp, fishing, and other, which are activities with a direct responsibility in the destruction of forests and mangrove forests, areas with agricultural vocation, fisheries, and where there were serious impacts on rural communities, indigenous peoples and fishermen, who have suffered dispossession of their lands and territories, went to suffer labor exploitation, or are victims of the contamination of soil and water sources.

We reject that Ecuador accedes to the Free Trade Agreement that negotiated by Colombia and Peru with the EU, because it is not a legitimate agreement. Your negotiation could only be carried out on the basis of imposing  the people of Ecuador  an aggressive media campaign that successfully concealed the neoliberal nature and content of the treaty.

This agreement is not democratic, because it was negotiated in secret, without a minimum democratic debate. That has resulted from already taken policy decisions and regulations that are intended to pave the way for the implementation of this FTA. Examples are the disproportionate regulations of different kinds that are imposed on the peasants’ production, mainly related to the dairy, which have placed thousands of families in situations of open impracticality. The dairy sector involves some 900 thousand people, including many women who will be directly and severely affected.

On the other hand, standards have been adopted or are about to be adopted that seek to significantly facilitate the large international investors, even in very sensitive areas. The regulation to the Organic Law on Water Resources, uses, and water use, opens up the possibility of private sector participation in the provision of public water and sanitation services.

These and other aspects are contradictory with the Ecuadorian Constitution adopted in 2008 after a constituent process. It establishes as a new paradigm the possibility of achieving the Samak Kawsay (or fullness of life) from the escalation of human rights, to recognize the nature as a subject of rights to water as a fundamental human right, to ensure food sovereignty to the entire population, among other aspects.

Further, the Constitution explicitly states that “it is not may conclude treaties or international instruments to which the Ecuadorian State sovereign jurisdiction ceded to instances of international arbitration, in contractual disputes or of a commercial nature, between the State and private individuals or corporations” (art. 422). A fundamental article to the defense of national sovereignty considering that currently Ecuador faces eleven arbitral proceedings, of which only he who has the relationship with Occidental Petroleum (OXY) involves a payment to this transnational corporation of more than a billion dollars. Another case, the Petrobras, would mean the imposition of which is paid to the company $830 million.

In this context, chemists’ environmental controls, labor rights and other; granted to companies incentives that include the neutralization of the social protest – as is the case against those who are opposed to the mining, oil, agribusiness – by making use of the force unleashed is public while campaigns of intimidation, harassment, persecution to judicial leaders and social leaders. Added to this is the institutional blockage to the realization of a popular consultation that to protect the heritage leaching and the life of the Taromenane and Tagaeri peoples, it prevents the exploitation of oil in the Yasuni-ITT, in the Amazon, one of the areas with the greatest biodiversity on the planet.

Through the destruction of villages, the illegal arrest of leaders, militarization and intimidation, it is clear the territories where projects are ongoing large-scale extractives. It has been murdered three leaders belonging to the aboriginal people opposed to the Shuar megamineria chinese-canadian in the Amazonia south but to date no clarifies these facts and this follows the impunity.

The national strike of August 2015, was responded with physical attacks, repression and detention without “due process of low” few times seen in Ecuador. There was a repression targeted especially against women, using methods racist and sexist.

Another concern has to do with the situation of intimidation and death threats faced by Paulina Muñoz, leader of the coalition that fought against the FTA with the US, and in this time denounced the likely impact of the FTA with the European Union.

We reject the Free Trade Agreement with the EU which imposes phitosanitary norms and intellectual property norms such as the use of patented bunch, meaning, ADPIC+ which in turn put at risk access to medications, specially with chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes.

It is unacceptable for our country, to sign this treaty that promotes “bioprospection” of our genetic patrimony, our ancestral knowledge and that even imposes the agreement UPOV 91 by which it is prohibited to save and share native seeds; making it a crime, even punished with jail, to keep practicinng our agroecological ancestral practices which is essential for life.

The impacts that have been announced by different social movements from Colombia and Peru, and that caused two agricultural strikes in Colombia, evidence the fact that this instruments do not benefit the peoples but, on the contrary, they eliminate them.

It is time to be coherent and consequent with your compromise to generate the possibility of a different world, and that along us, reject the free trade agreements and start dialogues regarding a model of agreements of integration just and dignified for the peoples ; a model generated from knowledge, awareness and respect of an eco-sistemic and multicultural dynamic.

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