Accion Por La Vida Update Mindo, ECUADOR

It has been one month and one day since Special Forces national police raided the peaceful protest camp in Cerro Guarumos and all activists were arrested, including some foreign tourists and students. The weeks after the
arrests were very busy for us as we worked hard with Accion Ecologica in liberating the innocent activists and organizing various protests in Quito as well as here in Mindo. The same day that the activists were detained, the
town of Mindo rose up to protest the wrongful arrests and closed off the main highway for over 6 hours. At this time, two OCP trailers transporting the tubes for the pipeline were also detained and driven down into the town
of Mindo where they were parked in the middle town with their tires deflated. This was a message to OCP that Mindo is not ready to give up the fight. Several days later, the Special Forces police came to Mindo, surrounded the trucks and inflated the tires in order to remove them from Mindo. Knowing that any man trying to interfere would be immediately arrested, the women of Mindo, mothers, daughters and grandmothers alike, put up a brave struggle as they laid their bodies across the bridge at the exit
of town to stop the trailers from leaving. The women were picked up, one by one, by four policemen for each woman and physically restrained until the trucks had passed.

After the direct action in Mindo, the group traveled to Quito to demand the liberation of the wrongfully arrested activists. The hearing was on Monday April 4th with the mayor of Quito, Paco Moncayo. A group of protestors stayed outside and picketed teaching the public of the recent injusticesthrough songs, music and dramatic demonstrations, while another group entered the meeting to listen to the testimonies of the detained activists.

After a full week of imprisonment, the five Ecuadorian activists from Accion Por La Vida were liberated, free of charges due to wrongful arrest, the foreign tourists and students were immediately deported. We could now breathe a sigh of relief, celebrate, and rest. During the week that the activists were imprisoned, there were constant shifts of volunteers bringing food and supplies to the detained (in Ecuador a prisoner is not guaranteed a meal and a place to sleep) and Accion Por La Vida together with Accion
Ecologica worked around the clock with lawyers, family members and ambassadors to secure the liberation of each and every detained activist.

Since we are a relatively small group, we were very tired and stripped of energy and motivation. We could relax knowing that our partners were out of that pathetic and disgusting jail but, keeping us on our toes, OCP immediately filed a lawsuit against all of the arrested accusing them of "sabotage on a public work". Funds are greatly needed to cover the legal costs as this trial continues.

Accion Ecologica has provided an incredible amount of logistical, legal, emotional and financial support during the protest and we continue working together in the struggle against the pipeline. Now that things had settled
down a little, it was time for a little rest and reflection on all that we have achieved since the formation of our grassroots group Accion Por La Vida two years ago. For this reason Accion Ecologica put together a day-long workshop here in Mindo for members of Accion Por La Vida to think about and assess the recent events and put together a new plan of action. It was great to get together and map out all that we have done as a group since the beginning of the protest two years ago; developing strong relations with national and international NGO's and other environmentalist groups,
maintaining a consistent and effective resistance against the OCP project, managing national and international press visits to the area, etc. A trip to Guayaquil to attend a conference and participate in an Earth Day march was
also planned.

On Thursday, April 18 a group of six members of Accion Por La Vida left for the long trip by bus to Guayaquil. The following day there was a forum held in the municipal building in downtown Guayaquil. There were various groups
present such as Accion Ecologica, Accion Por La Vida and other environmental groups from Guayaquil. The meeting was held to discuss the environmental impacts of the OCP route and to involve other national groups and organizations. Efrain Toapanta participated in the forum as the spokesperson for Accion Por La Vida and spoke about the socio-economic impacts of the pipeline on the town of Mindo. On Earth Day, Monday April 22, in downtown
Guayaquil four tree-climbers from Accion Por La Vida, including two of the detained activists Wilfrido Vaca and Edwin Villota, demonstrated the art of climbing to those attending the Earth Day march by climbing two buildings
and hanging an anti-OCP banner between the two buildings.

So, as this update shows, Accion Por La Vida has continued to protest the OCP pipeline route and will fight until the project is stopped or the route is changed. However, in order to continue with these actions, funds are necessary for such costs as transportation, communications (internet,
computer supplies, telephone) and supplies.

With the help of Rettet den Regenwald (Save the Rainforest) in Germany, Accion Por La Vida has been able to come up with the initial down payment to purchase 1200 acres of primary could forest. We are working with various
international groups such as Amazon Watch from the states, Rettet den Regenwald from Germany, Rain Forest Information Centre in Australia and World Bank Reform Campaign in Italy to fundraise the amount that is still owed to the original owner. Anybody interested in receiving a copy of the land purchase proposal or in donating to the land trust fund please contact me for more information (contact information below).

Our silence over the last month has been a time of rest, reflection and regrouping for us as a small local group taking on global issues. That in no way means we are finished with our struggle. Instead, we have new energies,
fresh perspectives and more motivation than ever to continue protecting the Mindo-Nambillo cloud forest and the rights of its human and non-human residents.

Donations can be made to:

Amazon Watch
contact: Kevin Koenig
2350 Chumash Road
Malibu, CA 90265
office: 310-456-9158 Fax: 310-456.9138
write in memo: Mindo Action Fund

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments:

Molly Brown
International Spokesperson
Accion Por La Vida
Tel: (593)(2)2765-471

Thank you for your support and concern.
Molly Brown

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