Cuenca Ecuador: Mining could threaten Azuay province water supply

Posted on November 17, 2016 • Filed under: Ecuador, Ecuador Emergency, Latin America Mining

Pablo Orellana Matute/ wrote:

Nestled amid the Andean mountains, Cuenca — Ecuador’s third largest city — has long been known for its bounteous sources of fresh water. This is thanks to its privileged location within the Maziso del Cajas, a newly declared UNESCO biosphere reserve. However, over the last decade, its underlying gold and silver reserves have fallen prey to corporate mining interests — a situation that has only grown more critical with the government’s recent announcement that there will be further exploitation of these minerals.

Social and environmental groups across the city have stood up to defend their region from the mining industry. At the forefront is the Yasunidos Cuenca-Guapondelig youth collective — a local branch of the national Yasunidos movement that gained attention in 2014 with a nationwide failed call for a referendum on President Rafael Correa’s extractivist policies. Along with frontline communities in the region, the collective is working to preserve what they see as the region’s very source of life.

On October 22, the authorities of Azuay province — where Cuenca is located — gathered in the mountains, over 11,000 feet above sea level, to unanimously pass a resolution declaring the province’s moor ecosystems “mining-free territories.” Alongside Kimsacocha, a majestic lagoon that serves as the source of one of Cuenca’s four emblematic rivers, the organizers, including city mayors and members of the provincial council, participated in cultural festivities and rituals to celebrate this symbolic victory.

For the Yasunidos collective in Cuenca, along with other social and peasant movements, this action was part of an ongoing effort to render water’s life-giving qualities — and the hardships that come with its scarcity — more visible. In the face of ever-growing mining activities in the region, their actions seek to counterbalance a false and pervasive official narrative of “responsible mining practices.”

Two mining projects at the entrance of a water reservoir (READ FULL ARTICLE)


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