Ecuador: Solidarity with indigenous organization CONAIE

On 30 March 2004, the two month anniversary of the attempted murder of Leonidas Iza, President of CONAIE (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities in Ecuador), a letter was sent to the President of Ecuador to remind the government that the international community has not forgotten and is waiting for a complete investigation of this crime.

This request for solidarity was made by Tito Puanchir, Vice-president of CONAIE who some of you met during the Inaugural Conference of ESCR-Net. Through Tito, CONAIE participated in the launch of the network and has been supportive of its development. A letter of support and solidarity endorsed by 30 organizations and activists was sent to the President of Ecuador, with a copy to the head of the national police department, the ministry of government and police, the general prosecutor and the Ambassador of Ecuador for the United States.

As a quick overview of the facts, last February 1, Leonidas Iza, his nephew, Xavier Iza (his son), and Leonidas' brother were attacked by two armed men outside the offices of the CONAIE. All of them, except Leonidas, were shot, leaving Xavier seriously injured. Josefina Aguisaca, Leonidas' wife, who was present during the attack with their baby, was physically assaulted by the armed men.

The attack against Iza and his family took place in the wake of other recent incidents which some groups link to repression by the Ecuadorian government against critics of the regime. These incidents include: the murders of Angel Zhingri (environmentalist from the Front of Defence for the Amazonian) and Patricio Campana who was investigating irregularities within the state oil company; the arrests of the indigenous leader Humberto Cholando for criticizing the government; the attack against the president of a national TV channel, as well as the production of a list with the names of "enemies of the state" which included Leonidas Iza, issued by a former advisor of the President of Ecuador.

The government has committed to investigate the crimes and according to the last information provided by CONAIE, has allocated some security members for the protection of the office. No arrests have been made until now. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights requested the government of Ecuador to adopt precautionary measures to protect Mr. Iza and his family. Precautionary measures are requested by the Commission to the State concerned, in serious and urgent cases, to prevent irreparable harm to persons.

We want to thank all of you who sent their endorsements to support this solidarity action.

For additional information on CONAIE visit their website at

See the complete letter here.