QUITO ( Associated Press) — President Guillermo Lasso’s government on Thursday declared illegal mining a threat to the state’s security, when gold is exploited unchecked in various parts of the Amazon using heavy machinery and Affects heavy metals, a product of this activity, in rivers in the area.
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 within that body, in addition to supporting legal mining concessions, a strategy had been approved to deal with the situation through action by the armed forces and the police, which was opposed by environmentalists and nearby communities. do and are often troubled by acts of violence.
Beyond the announcement, the ramifications 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 regional control, he said, pointing to the fact that environmentalists and communities who are affected They often block roads, harass and prevent the work of employees of legal mining concessions.
In a statement to The Associated Press, Freddy Rivera, an analyst and professor at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences, said that behind these activities are large criminal cartels, especially from Colombia, with enormous power, who have no qualms in corrupting officials. Not a problem. Police and Armed Forces to maintain this activity.
He stressed that Ecuador has no laws related to the control of precious metals, for which “we are in no man’s land regarding these issues of millionaire profit-generating” so the government announced the operation to a nothing much new promise impossible to fulfill
A United Nations estimate indicates that this illegal activity in Ecuador carries a figure of around $600 million, while the government does not have estimated figures.
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; Imbabura and Loja, in the Andean region, are prominent.
In 2019, dozens of police and army personnel arrived in a remote area of 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, rivers with their dirty water, and impacts on riverside communities in the Amazon region, the main region where the phenomenon occurs, but when joint military and military operations There are The police, dozens of people and dozens of large machines disappear without a trace.