Ecuador: Constitutional referendum is approved; incl. banning metallic mining

Although the media has focused on the political implications of questions referring to prohibition of re-election and combat to corruption, questions 5 and 7 are relevant to address conflicts on mining and oil concessions granted by the previous government and indigenous peoples and local communities land rights, particularly referred to the right to free, prior and informed consent, disputed by extractive companies, something NGOs still consider is at risk.

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Article
5 February 2018

“Moreno gets landslide victory as voters approve all seven referendum questions”

Author: Cuenca Highlife

February 5, 2018

There was little drama Sunday night as the results of Ecuador’s referendum election were announced. As expected, Ecuadorians voted “yes” by overwhelming margins to all seven questions presented by President Lenin Moreno…In the other major issues on the ballot, voters approved a ban on those convicted of corruption from serving in public office, 74 percent to 26 percent; approved the restructuring of a commission with executive authority, 63 percent to 37 percent; and voted to repeal a capital gains tax enacted by Correa, 62.5 percent to 37.5 percent…

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Article
2 February 2018

“Amazon Watch Statement on Ecuadorian Referendum”

Author: Amazon Watch

February 2, 2018

…The question getting the most attention asks voters if indefinite presidential reelection should be allowed…But other questions also touch on issues key to the country's politics, economy, and environmental protection system…Of the seven questions put to voters, two relate to environmental issues. Question #5 would amend the constitution to prohibit metal mining in all its phases in protected areas, so-called no-go zones, and urban areas. Question #7 asks whether voters agree to expand the no-gone zone area in Yasuní National Park by an additional 50,000 hectares and reduce the area open to oil drilling from 1,030 hectares to 300…"While the referendum questions on oil drilling in Yasuní and mining extraction are a step in the right direction, they do not go far enough in protecting the Amazon or its peoples from the ravages of extractive industries…"The question on mining would not affect the several major mining projects are already underway in Ecuador's southern Amazon. Those projects, led by Chinese and Canadian companies, have resulted in the forced removal of indigenous communities and clashes with the police, culminating in a state of emergency in 2016 that paralyzed the project for months."Similarly, the Yasuní question will do little to limit existing drilling or expansion plans in the Park…” "It is also important to note that the referendum comes on the heels of a major announcement from President Moreno to end all new oil and mining concessions in areas where local communities have not been properly consulted. However, ongoing dialogue between the indigenous movement and the government has yielded few concrete results thus far, and the movement is increasingly unhappy about the lack of progress in the talks."…

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Article
1 February 2018

“Ecuador’s February 4 referendum: What are the questions? What’s at stake for Ecuador?”

Author: Cuenca Highlife

February 1, 2018

Voters across the country go to the polls Sunday to vote “yes” or “no” on questions submitted by President Lenin Moreno. The questions — one of which would bar Correa from running again for president — have sparked heated debate, pitting supporters of Moreno against those of Correa, touch on a number of topics that will shape Ecuador’s political future…The seven referendum questions: …Question five would put restrictions on metal mining. In the question, voters are asked if they favor protecting environmentally sensitive, urban and historic areas from mining. A “yes” vote would outlaw mining in these areas and require an amendment to the Constitution…In 2016, social conflicts regarding mining were a recurring problem for Correa; Shuar communities in the Amazon region, for example, protested the presence of Chinese mining firms operating on their ancestral lands. More recently, the mining town of Zaruma, in El Oro Province, has been in the news because of cave-ins caused by tunnel mining, most of it illegal…Critics of the question, including environmentalists, say it is vague and lacks enforcement mechanisms…Question seven. Oil extraction in the Yasuni National Park is at stake with the seventh and final referendum question. Voters will be asked if they want to limit the area where oil extraction is permitted, protecting more of the park. The question is: ‘‘Do you agree with increasing the intangible zone by an average of 50,000 hectares and reducing the oil exploitation area authorized by the National Assembly in the Yasuni National Park from 1.030 hectares to 300 hectares’’?...As with question five, environmentalists say the question does not go far enough, allowing oil production to continue in parts of Yansuni. They call it a “feel good” question.

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