In 1992, OPIP, the Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas de la Amazonia Ecuatoriana (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities and of the Ecuadorian Amazon, or CONFENIAE) and the Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador (Confederation of the Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, or CONAIE) organized a caminata, or march, with the explicit goals of “1.) The legalization of our territories” and “2.) The amendment of the constitution to reflect the rights of the plurinational and multicultural reality that is Ecuador today.”
Ecuadorian indigenous stage mass uprising against neo-liberal measures including privatizing water and taking communally held land, 1994
Starting with Ecuador’s founding as a republic in 1822, the country’s
economic policy oppressed Indigenous citizens through measures that led
to the concentration and destruction of Indigenous lands. In 1986,
Luis Macas founded the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of
Ecuador (CONAIE) to advocate for the underrepresented Indigenous
Ecuadorians. CONAIE focused particularly on protecting land and water
rights of Indigenous communities. CONAIE leaders of the 1990s emphasized
demands for a plurinational state, collective rights, and territorial
Rural Ecuador had functioned under the huasipungo land-tenure system since the 16th century. The tenant farmers, called huasipungueros, were mainly of indigenous descent and worked 3 to 6 days a week on hacienda estates in the highlands, owned by absentee elite white families. In exchange for their labor, the laborers received a small plot of land for subsistence, access to pasture land for cattle, and a small cash wage. The indigenous farmers were highly attached to their land although their plots were still owned by the hacienda.
Retired Colonel Lucio Gutiérrez won the 2002 presidential elections in Ecuador after emerging as a popular ally of the poor during the years following a 2000 coup d’etat. A series of decisions followed his becoming president that increased the country’s International Monetary Fund debt and approved exploitation of oil on indigenous land.
On 6 August 1996, Argentinean General Fuel Company, also known as Compañía General de Combustibles (CGC), signed a contract with the Ministry of Energy and Mines in Ecuador without consultation of Kichwa natives of Sarayaku. The contract allowed CGC to exploit and explore 200,000 hectares of Block 23.
Beginning with the cacao surge during the 1870s, the conservative landowners in the Sierra and liberal exporting bourgeoisie in the Coastal region had fought for control of Ecuador. Indigenous and lower class Ecuadorians quickly became marginalized, and were extremely frustrated by this by the early 1900s. By this time, Ecuadorian politics and politicians were known to be corrupt and both the lower and even upper classes of society were disenchanted. This was only exacerbated by tough economic times, as the 1929 US Stock market crash greatly affected the Ecuadorian economy.
Ecuador ushered in a democratic process of election after 1978, following six years of military governments and coups d’état. During that time, the public demanded increasingly for democracy, prompting government officials to change the constitution in support of democratic elections beginning in 1979. Since then, Ecuador’s election process has involved more than six candidates in each election, and each elected president had finished their respective term. Abdala Bucaram broke that record.
In the 1930s, many South American countries experienced great upheavals. This was due mostly to the fact that there were many dictators in the majority of the countries there. These upheavals came in many forms and leaders used many different tactics, however they often resulted in the government being overthrown. One such overthrowing was attempted in Ecuador in 1933 during the regime of President Jean de Dios Martinez Mera.
In June 1988, the Arlington Richmond Company (ARCO) acquired rights to explore and exploit petroleum resources in an area of Pastaza province, Ecuador, known as Block 10. Located in the Amazon rainforest in eastern Ecuador (“El Oriente”), Pastaza was barely developed at the time. No roads reached Block 10—the small villages in the area were only accessible via helicopter, small airplane, or a multi-day jungle trek. To the Organization of Indigenous Peoples of Pastaza (OPIP), which represented 15,000 locals, mostly of the Quichua nation, ARCO’s acquisition seemed like a dan
Residents of Junin faced the first assault on their land in the early 1990s, after the Ecuadorian government signed a contract with Bishi Metals, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi. The contract allowed the mining company to prospect in and around Junin, a community in the mountainous region of northern Ecuador. Junin and its surrounding region, Intag, have exceptional biodiversity and rich water resources. Junin also happens to be rich in metals—copper in particular. The arrival of Bishi Metals raised immediate concern among Intag residents.
From the late 19th century into the early 20th century, Ecuador’s labor movement was slowly growing. However, most workers’ organizations consisted of groups of artisans, rather than industrial workers. These mutual aid societies collected dues mainly to pay for funerals of members who passed away and to financially help the family of the deceased. Additionally, some started night schools and reading groups. They also received most of their funding from the government, which helped keep their actions and goals moderate.