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Montevideo, September 28th 2023 - 18:51 UTC



Ecuador's native groups to up protests after leader was arrested

Tuesday, June 14th 2022 - 22:00 UTC
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Iza is known for his anti-capitalist stance Iza is known for his anti-capitalist stance

Ecuador's Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (Conaie) Tuesday launched an appeal to up protests against the government of President Guillermo Lasso by staging “a great indigenous and popular revolt.”

The group was angered following Monday's arrest of community leader and Conaie Chairman Leónidas Iza.

Group Vice-President Zenalda Yasacama said in a video distributed through social media that “after the arrest, we do not know where Iza was transferred” and warned that “we will hold the government responsible for any act that attempts against his life and integrity.”

The indigenous leader also called for the radicalization of “protest in every corner of the country,” and asked international organizations to pay attention to what is happening in Ecuador.

Marlon Vargas, head of Confenaie, Conaie's Amazonian branch, confirmed the call for mobilization of the eleven indigenous nationalities that make up the organization. Vargas also rejected Iza's “arbitrary, illegal and illegitimate detention.” While demanding Iza's release, she also called on “all nationalities of the Amazon region to radicalize.”

Iza, who was arrested in the Andean province of Cotopaxi after visiting protesters barricaded across the Pan-American Highway, is a charismatic leader of peasant movements. He rose to local recognition following protests in 2019. He was encouraged to assume indigenous leadership at the national level in 2021.

A member of the Kichwa-Panzaleo nationality and donning a traditional maroon poncho and a black hat, Iza has capitalized on his anti-capitalist stance. Born in 1982 in the community of San Ignacio, Iza is the son of José María Iza Viracocha, one of the leaders of the first indigenous uprising of 1990.

Iza is enormously influential among Catholic youths. Born in 1982, he became leader of the Provincial Committee of Pachakutik (Conaie's political arm) in 2013 and was elected chairman in 2016 president of the Indigenous and Peasant Movement of Cotopaxi (MICC). From that position, in 2019 he became one of the visible faces of the demonstrations that paralyzed Ecuador between October 1 and 13, against economic measures adopted by then-President Lenín Moreno.

During that uprising, the indigenous movement captured eight police officers, for which Iza and others faced kidnapping and terrorism charges. He was pardoned by Congress in March along with other 267 activists.

Iza was elected president of Conaie with a clearly anti-extractive agenda and to enforce the application of the 21 collective rights that protect the fourteen native nationalities of Ecuador. His tenure spans through 2024. The same demands were conveyed to Lasso's administration in Monday's protests.

”Now this people have not risen to go to a dialogue table, this people have risen so that, in a public way, you (President Lasso) respond to the demands that (for) a year we have put on the Government's table,” Iza said before refusing to bargain with the Executive.

Known for his anti-capitalist stance, Iza has published in 2020 together with other indigenist authors a book called The October Rebellion in Ecuador, which summarized his ideology.

Lasso's administration has warned episodes like the ones of 2019 to happen again.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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