Excerpt: … Now welcome to Intag, Ecuador, home to Ascendant’s Junin Project, where one sign (among many) posted on a local road reads: “The Communities of Junin, Cerro Pelado, Barcelona, El Triunfo and Villaflora do not permit mining.” The company is awaiting confirmation from the Ecuadorian government to begin the exploration phase for a potential open-pit copper mine in these areas.
According to human rights organizations and lawyers representing many residents of the region, the company’s activities in the area are anything but socially responsible and even amount to complicity in human rights abuses with the Ecuadorian government.
The company’s most recent press release on Sept. 19 described opponents of its project as “eco-terrorists”, “extremists” and “radicals.” This accusation is a reaction to a conflict in which company employees, one armed with a pistol, trespassed in Junin’s Community Reserve to conduct tests that the company alleges were meant to support its Environmental Impact Study (EIS), which is complete and awaiting approval by Ecuador’s Ministry of Energy and Mines. However, the approval can only be granted if a local court doesn’t rule in favor of local communities (a decision is expected on Friday) who filed a suit arguing that the company didn’t follow Ecuadorian law when it created its EIS.
Two of the employees were detained by local residents after they were discovered trespassing. The employees were fed and treated well — they testified as such to the police. Subsequently, without a warrant or evidence, the police arrested two individuals on charges of kidnapping. The local campesinos arrested weren’t even present when the company workers were detained. The men were held in jail for eight days before being released last Thursday. The judge released them without requiring bail, which suggests a lack of evidence for their arrest … (Read the whole long article on ZNet).