Posted On 21 Dec 2016
The 11 soldiers held in the Sarayaku village were released. They were taken yesterday to Shell in Pastaza and “are well,” according to a message from Defense Minister Ricardo Patino in his Twitter account.
For the release, more than three hours of meetings between members of the community with military authorities and the Government were necessary. President Rafael Correa spoke of ‘a kidnapping’ of the police officers.
The Sarayaku people have another perspective. Patricia Gualinga, head of international relations of the Sarayaku, said that permissions for the military to cross its territory were not granted and explanations were requested.
Retention fueled the growing conflict between the Government and the indigenous peoples of the Amazon. Days earlier, members of the Shuar community clashed with the police and military personnel at La Esperanza mining camp, in Morona Santiago.
According to indigenous leaders, the Shuars sought to “recover their territory after the the eviction of August 11 to give way to the mining exploitation.”
President Rafael Correa does not agree with that version of the incidents. For him, the perpetrators of these attacks, which resulted in the death of a police officer and seven soldiers wounded, are alleged members of irregular armed groups.
Minister of Security Coordination Cesar Navas and Interior Minister Diego Fuentes replied the accusation of the president. The police leadership added to the list of charges the theft of cattle, the burning of houses and extortion to other communities.