Saturday, 22 August 2015

Amazonian Indians wielding spears




Amazonian Indians wielding spears


By Julian Robinson
Amazonian Indians wielding spears, some wearing war paint, sent police and soldiers fleeing in clashes on Tuesday and Wednesday over plans to use their land for mining and oil drilling.
Protesters in the streets of Macas.
Protesters with spears in the streets of Macas.
About 200 Shuar and Achuar protesters chased off officials in the Amazon town of Macas, in southeast Ecuador during confrontation.
At least two dozen police were injured in the clash which unfolded amid anger over President Rafael Correa’s refusal to consult indigenous people about mining and oil drilling on their traditional lands.
The Shuar and Achuar have occupied their area of jungle for hundreds, maybe thousands of years. Although the face paint and bearing of spears, is mostly symbolic today, they have been used frequently in recent years in conflicts of the government and mining and oil companies.
A protester in war paint.
A protester in war paint.
The conflict is part of the bigger national strike called by indigenous people of Ecuador over a long list of complaints, including the possible adoption of a constitutional amendment that would allow Correa to seek anther term as president.
Isolated protests have persisted since the diverse coalition of anti-Correa forces called a general strike on August 13. On Thursday, there were more clashes on the Pan American Highway, that protesters are trying to block and police and soldiers are attempting to keep open. There were also marches in a number of cities, including Quito and Cuenca.
In addition to indigenous groups, various unions and retirees have joined the protests in marches and in the blocking of roads with tree trunks, rocks and burning tires.
Earlier this month, rockets were fired at police as protesters took to the streets in Macas and other communities in fury at the proposals.
Protest leaders say 105 from their ranks have been arrested and 35 injured, while authorities say 100 police have been hurt.
The Shuar and Achuar victory over the government was short-lived. By Friday morning, police and military enforcements were in firm control of Macas.