Ecuador: Abducted Soldiers released by irrregular group in mining conflict

Ecuador Indigenous Group Releases Soldiers Abducted in Mining Conflict reported … “Freedom and dignity of people are not negotiable, and in Ecuador no one is above the law,” said Ecuador’s Defense Ministry.

Two soldiers who were abducted by an irregular group in the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador were released on Saturday in the midst of a mining conflict that has sparked heated tensions between Indigenous leaders and the government.

“Our soldiers were released. They are in good health. It’s time for them to be with their parents and family,” said Defense Minister Ricardo Patino on his Twitter account.

Patino said the kidnapping will not remain in impunity and that “freedom and dignity of people are not negotiable and in Ecuador no one is above the law.”


He also thanked the teams of the Defense Ministry, Armed Forces, and Shuar and Achuar Indigenous communities for their work to achieve the release.

“Their intelligent, professional, responsible and firm work resulted in a clean and non-violent rescue of our soldiers,” said Patino.

This is the second case in recent months in which a specific group within an Indigenous nation has abducted members of the military to protest contested mining projects. The government had warned that “it will not negotiate with criminals,” who are a small group that does not represent the entire Shuar community.

Deputy Defense Minister Felipe Vega de la Cuadra said the military were voluntarily handed over, adding that local communities in the area who were against these violent practices collaborated with the release.

UN Recognizes Ecuador, Bolivia for Support of Indigenous Rights

He said that in addition to kidnapping the soldiers, the group had stolen military equipment such as helmets, bulletproof vests, guns, rubber munitions and tear gas bombs.

“The crime of kidnapping for extortion is included in the COIP (Organic Criminal Code) and is aggravated by the stealing of military equipment,” said Vega de la Cuadra.

The two soldiers, Fernando Rodriguez and Paul Pazmino, had been held in the southern Amazonian province of Morona Santiago since Jan. 21. Both men were on a patrol sent to rescue two of their colleagues who had been detained by a violent group the day before while dressed in civilian clothes and unarmed, as it was their day off.

According to authorities, the group wanted the liberation of an Indigenous leader who was arrested for his alleged involvement in a violent event that left one policeman dead and several wounded last December.

According to the Indigenous group, 38 percent of Shuar land has been concessioned to large-scale mining, fueling the conflict with the government.

The Shuar have called on President Rafael Correa to “create a climate of peace” by suspending a State of Exception issued over the conflict, withdrawing troops from the area and dismissing arrest warrants for community leaders. Read Article

Share This Story
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Add to favorites
  • email