- Amazon limits
- Mining concessions
There is a war going on over Amazonia. This is a conflict for the appropriation of the forest’s underground territory, which is as rich in mineral commodities as the forest’s aboveground is rich in fauna and flora. This is no even battle. It is disproportionally fought by powerful corporations in collision with state agents against local indigenous and peasant communities who stewardship the land and from the land make their livelihoods.
This investigation examines the case of Project Mirador, a mega-mine development led by Chinese corporation Ecuacorriente in the region of the Cordillera del Cóndor, Shuar ancestral territory, one of the most biologically rich regions of the Amazon basin.
For Project Mirador to be implemented, indigenous and peasant communities have been expropriated of their lands and evicted from their homes. Vast swaths of forests and numerous indigenous archaeological sites have been destroyed.
These multiple forms of violence – social, cultural, ecological – are intimately tied to the ways global extraction industries are appropriating indigenous lands across South America and beyond.
Raúl Sanchez, a former resident of the region of Tundayme, shows the site of his parents house along the Cóndor road, which was demolished by state forces in December 2015.
In order to control the territory of the mining concession, the company Ecuacorriente used obscure procedures and intimidating tactics to divide communities and force them to leave their lands. This occurred with the connivance and direct support of the Ecuadorian State, which was instrumental to remove the population in two main ways: on the legal front, by making use of juridical mechanisms to expropriate land and persecute land and nature rights defenders; and on the territory, by deploying security forces to evict families that refused to abandon their land.
Construction of the tailing dams in the former site of the San Marcos village, January 2016.
Sitting at the frontiers between the Andes and Amazonia, the Cordillera del Cóndor region functions as an “ecological bridge” between different highland and lowland climatic ecosystems. This condition gives these montane tropical forests a high degree of species diversity and endemism. The Cordillera del Cóndor is considered one of the planet’s most important yet least-known biological refuges. Given its “mega” dimensions, the Mirador mine will have widespread environmental impacts on these fragile ecological system as a whole.
Carlos Tendetza-Antún and his mother, with an ancient ceramic pot encountered in their garden.
In addition to the expulsion of local communities and massive deforestation, mega-mining operations are also destroying hundreds of indigenous archaeological sites in the Cordillera del Cóndor region. The geographic mapping of these sites shows that they form a very large and dense archaeological complex that extends throughout valleys of the Wawayme, Tundayme and Quimi rivers. This ancient heritage is now completly gone to open land for extraction.
This report was produced under commission of INREDH (Fundación Regional de Asesoría en Derechos Humanos) and CASCOMI – (Comunidad Amazónica de Acción Social Cordillera del Cóndor Mirador), within the framework of a protection action filed against the Ecuadorian State (Ministry of Mining, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of the Environment, ARCOM - Agencia de Regulación y Control Minero) and the company Ecuacorriente for the violation of collective rights of the communities of the Cordillera del Cóndor. Our research counted on the invaluable collaboration of Geografia Critica Ecuador and Acción Ecológica.
Realized by autonoma, MediaLab-UFRJ and Forensic Architecture
Coordinator: Paulo Tavares
Research and Mapping: Adriano Belisário and Ana Altberg
Web Design: Marlus Araújo
Video: Camara Shuar
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