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You are here: Home / Media / Archive / 2000 / press_imf_ecuador


Friends of the Earth Press Release, July 13th 2000



On Monday July 10th a group of more the than 50 people from campesino, environmental and human rights organisations peacefully occupied the Vatican Embassy in Quito, Ecuador. With this they protested against the social effects of IMF imposed structural Adjustment measures. The action was supported by Accion Ecologica, the Friends of the Earth Ecuador group.

The protesters were forcibly removed from the Embassy and three leaders have been detained. Friends of the Earth requests the support of the international media and public against the detaining of the leaders of the protest action.

IMF inspired structural adjustment measures, including the privatisation of the state Social Security system, would leave 1,000,000 campesinos from some of the poorest areas of the country, to their fate. The protesters had asked that the church mediate on their behalf. However rather than helping the poor and downtrodden, after lecturing the campesino leaders on the sanctity of private property, the order was given by the Council of Bishops, headed by Monsignor Antonio Arregui, to forcibly dislodge the protesters.

Approximately 100 police broke down the doors of the embassy and entered from all sides. Of the ten who were arrested, seven have now been released. However, Jorge Loor, the president of the Association of Affiliates of the Campesino Social Security, Jorge Trujillo, the President of the Social Security Workers Union, and Julio Flores, Director of the Popular Coordinator of Quito were all detained and have, as far as can be ascertained, now been charged with invading private property.

There is much confusion around the legal validity of the police action and the nature of the charges that may or may not have been laid. The Vatican Ambassador denied this morning that he himself had given the order to dislodge. On the other hand the Ecuadorian Attorney General Marianna Yepez, amongst others, has unofficially confirmed that the Council of Bishops was responsible for the actions. While as the embassy falls under the jurisdiction of international law the Ecuadorian state or its representatives can not on the own initiative take action. However, no one in the church, or state, has taken responsibility for dislodging the campesinos or for pressing charges. No written order has appeared.

Meanwhile the whereabouts of the three political detainees, who are without legal representation, is unknown and family members have been denied the opportunity to visit or speak with them.



Aurora Donoso
President Accion Ecologica
Tel/fax 00 593-2-547-516/527-583

Cesar Cabrrera President
National Campesino Coordinating Committee
Tel/fax 00 593-2-580-169





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