Ecuador declares illegal mining a security threat

Ecuador declares illegal mining a security threat

The government of President Guillermo Lasso declared illegal mining on Thursday as a threat to state security, when gold is exploited uncontrollably in various parts of the Amazon using heavy machinery and affecting rivers with heavy metals, the product of this activity. from the area.

The Secretary of Security, Diego Ordóñez, reported that the State Public Security Council made this resolution based on the fact that this illegal activity is also closely related to drug trafficking, money laundering and arms trafficking.

He stressed that a strategy was approved to deal with the situation through actions by the armed forces and the police, in addition to supporting legal mining concessions, which environmentalists and nearby communities oppose and often harass with acts of violence.

Beyond the announcement, the implications or measures that will come from declaring this activity a threat to national security were not detailed.

“There is no possibility that private guards -indigenous or community guards- intend to replace the role of the Armed Forces and Police” in territorial control, he added, alluding to the fact that environmentalists and communities that feel affected often block roads, harass and prevent the work of employees of legal mining concessions.

The analyst and professor at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences, Freddy Rivera, in statements to The Associated Press, said that behind these activities there are large criminal cartels, especially from Colombia, with enormous power, who have no problem corrupting officials. of the police and armed forces to maintain this activity.

He asserted that Ecuador does not have a law related to the control of precious metals either, for which reason “we are in no man’s land regarding these issues that generate millionaire profits.” The government’s announcement of operations, concludes Rivera, is nothing more than a new promise that is impossible to keep.

An estimate by the United Nations indicates that this illegal activity in the Andean country moves figures of around 600 million dollars, while the government does not have approximate statistics.

In 2019, dozens of police and army troops arrived in Buenos Aires, a remote area in the province of Imbabura, where hundreds of illegal miners were exploiting gold without control. They were evicted but weeks later illegal miners arrived again and are now at the site exploiting that mineral.

In recent weeks, videos have been revealed showing the constant work of illegal miners, rivers with their murky waters, and affected riverside communities in the Amazon region, the main area where this phenomenon occurs. When combined army and police operations are carried out, dozens of people and dozens of large machines disappear without a trace.

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Written by Editor TLN

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