On 20 October 2015, members of the organization of rural women defenders of Mother Earth and human rights (FMDP)) were assaulted and arbitrarily arrested by police and security officers in the rural community of Molleturo, in Cuenca, Ecuador during the visit of President Raphael Correa to inaugurate and support “Oro Rio Blanco,” a mining project of the Chinese mining company Junefield.
Assaulted were IWA Vice Chairperson Lina Solano , also President of the Latin American Union of Women (ULAM), Herlinda Gutama, Chairperson of Women Defenders of the Pachamama Front, Georgina Gutama, Coordinator of the Front, among others. Within the group were elderly women and children. Marie Mercedes Gutama Tibillín, a 78 year old woman, was not spared. Fernando Mejía, an ally was punched in the face, beaten as police tried to take away his camera.
The women were in the central park of Molleturo with a banner expressing their opposition to the mining extraction, a project that the government of Raphael Correa has approved and imposed by blood and fire. The entire community opposes this mining project that will block the water source and the survival of the community.
The women were surrounded, violently pushed, beaten, insulted and threatened but they stood their ground and refused to surrender the banner and defended it in an exercise of their right to resistance, freedom of expression and opinion. They were detained for over two hours until the end of the inauguration. “It is a legitimate right to exercise free expression of opinion. Women defenders are not criminals. They are mothers, daughters, sisters and grandmothers who defend nature and life,” IWA Vice-Chairperson Lina Solano said.
IWA denounces the increasing invasion of transnational corporations in Latin America with large-scale mining, oil and gas projects, backed by national governments. These projects are destroying local economies and land and increasing militarization and causing physical and sexual violence, mainly against women by the military, police and private security forces.
The International Women’s Alliance joins ULAM and allied organizations in condemning these acts of state violence and demand protection for members of the Women Defenders of the Pachamama, who are being criminalized and face judicial prosecution.
Condemn the violence against the Women Defenders of the Pachamama!
Stop militarization and violence against women!
Stop corporate mining in Latin America and the rest of the world!