QUITO ( Associated Press) – The government of President Guillermo Lasso on Thursday declared illegal mining a threat to the state’s security, when gold is exploited without control in various parts of the Amazon using heavy machinery and affecting heavy metals. does, the product of this activity, the area in the rivers.
Security Secretary, Diego Ordóñez, explained 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 insisted that in addition to supporting legal mining concessions, a strategy was approved to deal with the situation through action by the armed forces and the police, which environmentalists and nearby communities oppose and often turn to violence. disturbed by the acts of
Beyond the announcement, the implications or measures that would 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, Ordóñez said, pointing to the fact that environmentalists and communities who Feeling affected they often block roads, harass and obstruct the work of employees of legal mining concessions.
Maria Eulalia Silva, president of the Chamber of Mining, said in a statement to The Associated Press that illegal mining affects all Ecuadorians because it robs resources that should be under state control and that should benefit society, and that its move is a The mark is made. Uncertainty and social decomposition.
“We appreciate the forward-lookingness of this statement, as it expresses the political will of the state to confront the scourge of illegal mining,” he said, adding that the government’s implementation of the statement would be expected in the coming days or weeks. I hope to come.
Freddy Rivera, an analyst and professor at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences, told the Associated Press that behind such activities are large criminal cartels, especially those from Colombia, which have enormous power, which is used to corrupt police officers and security forces. No problem keeping it. illegal exploitation.
He stressed that Ecuador has no laws related to the control of precious metals, so “we are in no man’s land when it comes to these issues that generate millionaire profits.” The government’s declaration of operations, Rivera concluded, is nothing more than a new promise that is impossible to fulfill.
A United Nations estimate indicates that this illegal activity in the Andean country carries a figure of around $600 million, while the government does not have an estimated figure.
This illegal exploitation activity, mainly gold, is registered in at least 11 provinces of the country, including Sucumbios, Zamora Chinchipe and Morona Santiago in the Amazon; Also in Imbabura and Loja, in the Andean region, are the main ones.
In 2019, dozens of police and army personnel arrived in Buenos Aires, a remote area in Imbabura province where hundreds of illegal miners were exploiting gold unchecked. They were evicted but weeks later the illegal miners returned and are now exploiting the mineral.
In recent weeks, videos have emerged showing the continued work of illegal miners, the rivers with their dirty water, and the impact on riverside communities in the Amazon region, where the phenomenon occurs. When a joint operation by the army and police is launched, dozens of people and dozens of large machines disappear without a trace.