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Ecuador’s Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) elected Marlon Santi president at a CUPE-assisted conference held Jan. 10-12. Santi was elected by more than 1,000 indigenous delegates gathered at Santo Domingo de los Tsa’chilas for the Third Congress of Indigenous Nationalities and Peoples of Ecuador.

Luis Macas, outgoing CONAIE president, reported on his work during his three-year term. He called the congress a “minga” (a communal work party) to construct a new country that would belong to all Ecuadorians. “Even though some governments have done everything to divide us,” Macas said, “this congress is a practical demonstration of our unity and brotherhood.”

In a final report on the congress, CONAIE said “indigenous leaders declared their opposition to any policies that would lead to an extraction of natural resources from Ecuador, particularly petroleum and water. Instead, these are elements of strategic importance to the development of the country.” The report also said that “a principle demand of the congress was the recognition of Ecuador as a plurinational state.

“Indigenous leaders called on the Assembly that is currently re-writing the country’s constitution to change government structures and the political system to end social exclusion and inequality. They presented an Integral Agrarian Reform plan to redistribute land, eliminate inequality, and to stop environmental destruction,” the report said. Delegates also ratified their unlimited support to the changes in Bolivia led by president Evo Morales.

Indigenous activists founded CONAIE in 1986 as a national federation to represent indigenous interests to the government. CONAIE first gained broad international attention when it led a protest in June 1990 that shut down the country. In 1995, CONAIE helped found the political movement Pachakutik to run candidates for political office.

See an earlier report on this site and go to the following site for a full final report from CONAIE http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/1085/1/