Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform

Ecuador: Peasant lands occupied in La Tranca, province of Los Ríos

Emergency Network
Monday 16 July 2007 by LRAN

On May 18, armed civilians and military together with persons claiming to be the owners of the estate San Vicente violently occupied the lands of 57 peasants organized in the Association of Agricultural Workers "La Tranca". Since then, armed guards have been preventing the entry of the peasants to the estate and to the paddy crops which they had planted.
In this situation it is very urgent to ask the Ecuadorian authorities to protect the peasants’ right to food immediately. Please send letters to the Ministries of Agriculture and the Ministry of the Interior. Mark a copy of your letter to Human Rights Commission of the Diocese.

Background

For more than 24 years, the peasants of the Association of Agricultural Workers "La Tranca" have been struggling for the title of the land they have been working on the estate "San Vicente": 505 hectares in La Tranca, Parroquia Pimocha, province of Los Ríos. These lands are disputed because the inheritors of Señor Endor Aragundi Echavarría claim that they are the owners. Violent acts against the peasants, like the one on May 18 this year, had been part of this struggle. On June 13 a governmental commission tried to visit the estate in order to prepare a report on the current situation of possession and land use in the estate, the self-acclaimed owners, however, prevented the entry of the commission.

The district office of the National Institute for Agrarian Development (INDA) in Guayaquil issued several contradictory decrees to the disadvantage of the La Tranca peasants. On March 1 of the current year the INDA in Guayaquil issued a decree which closed down the process of expropriation of the estate, which the peasants had applied for. With this decree the possibility to solve the conflict through the INDA had come to an end, but the option for legal action by the peasants before the ordinary courts remained open.
Nevertheless, the INDA Guayaquil continued with its contradictory decrees during the recent months. For example on May 29 it issued a decree which called upon the governor and the police of Los Ríos to give guarantees to the family Aragundi Rodriguez, alleged heirs of Mr Aragundi Echavarría, thereby providing a justification for the earlier occupation of the estate on May 18 and the subsequent take over of the peasants’ paddy crops. INDA failed to take into consideration that two cases were pending in court which had been brought by the peasants.

Moreover, the civil rights of the peasants and of their supporters are violated. Father Eduardo Aguirre, priest of the church El Cafetal and Lcdo. Jesús Narváez Quinto, Executive Secretary of the Human Right Commission of the Diocese, have been threatened, accused of subversion with cases being brought against them. The women of the Association who bravely continue to resist have been threatened and attacked by security guards of the Aragundi Rodríguez family. The peasants assume that the presumed heirs want to take possession of the land in order to sell it to the owners of hacienda Isabel Maria, which is adjacent to the San Vicente estate and has 1700 ha of sugar cane plantations.

Mandate of the emergency net.

As a state party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Ecuador is under the obligation to protect the right to food in the La Tranca region, which shows one of the highest poverty indicators in the province of Los Rios. It is important to intervene rapidly in order to protect the paddy crops of the peasants. They are crucial for the payment of the loans in order to keep their land cultivated which alone allows them to feed themselves. The ministries of agriculture and of the interior have to take urgent measures to ensure the peasants’ access to their land and to harvest the paddy. They also have to resolve the land conflict in a way which protects and fulfills the right to food of the La Tranca peasants.

End of action: August 31, 2007

Addresses:

Ing. Carlos Vallejo

Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería

Av. Amazonas y Eloy Alfaro

Fax: (00593) 2 256 45 31

ministro@mag.gov.ec

Copia a:

Dr. Gustavo Larrea

Ministerio de Gobierno
Benalcázar N4-24 y espejo

Fax: (00593) 2 257 08 73

ministro@mag.gov.ec

Lcdo. Jesús Narváez

Comisión Diocesana de Derechos Humanos

Apartado Postal 12 - 01 - 180

Fax: (00593) 5 273 22 17

codhulr@ecua.net.ec

Please keep FIAN informed about any reaction to your letters.

Translation of the letter proposal:

Dear Sir,

I know about the situation which the 57 peasants of the Association of Agricultural Workers "La Tranca" face, who have been working the land of the estate "San Vicente" in the area of La Tranca, province of Los Ríos. According to my information, on Friday May 18 of this year the Aragundi Rodríguez people entered the estate. They were accompanied by armed civilians and military who shot towards the peasants. Since then armed guards of the alleged owners prevent the entry to the estate and to the paddy crops of the peasants. Moreover on June 13 they prevented the entry of a governmental commission who wanted to investigate the current situation of possession and exploitation of the estate.

The district office of the Instituto Nacional de Desarrollo Agrario (INDA) Guayaquil issued various contradictory decrees to the disadvantage of the La Tranca peasants and which were interpreted as a justification for the occupation of the estate on May 18 and for the subsequent take over of the peasants’ paddy crops.

The situation has been even further aggravated by the fact that the civil rights
of the workers and their supporters are also violated. Father Eduardo Aguirre, priest of El Cafetal Church, and Lcdo. Jesús Narváez Quinto, Executive Secretary of the Human Rights Commission of the Diocese have been threatened, and accused as subversives. Court cases have been brought against them. Meanwhile the women of the Association who bravely continue to resist, have been threatened and attacked by security guards of the Aragundi Rodríguez family.

Dear Minister, Ecuador is a State Party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and therefore duty-bound to respect and protect the right to adequate food of the 57 peasants in La Tranca. Therefore, the Ecuadorian state is obliged to protect the La Tranca peasants’ access to land and productive resources against attacks by third parties, and the obligation to abstain from promoting any practice which destroys or impedes such access. Occupying the La Tranca peasants’ lands and preventing their access to their lands and crops constitute an offense of international human rights law.

In view of the situation described above and in consideration of the human rights obligations undertaken by the state of Ecuador, I want to ask you very respectfully to take all the measures necessary in order to:

- Guarantee immediately the access of the peasants of La Tranca to their lands and crops.
- Carry out the pertinent investigations to establish the responsibilities and corresponding sanctions for those officers in INDA who were involved in the occupation of the La Tranca peasants’ lands.

- Resolve the land conflict on the San Vicente estate in a form which protects and fulfils the La Tranca peasants right to food;

- Grant personal guarantees for Father Padre Eduardo Aguirre, priest of El Cafetal church, and Lcdo. Jesús Narváez Quinto, Executive Secretary of the Human Rights Commission of the Diocese, and to the inhabitants of La Tranca, in particular the women of the Association of Agricultural Workers "La Tranca".

Yours sincerely,

Ing. Carlos Vallejo

Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería

Av. Amazonas y Eloy Alfaro

Fax: (00593) 2 256 45 31

ministro@mag.gov.ec


De mis consideraciones,

Tengo conocimiento de la situación que confrontan los/as 57 campesinos/as de la Asociación de Trabajadores Agrícolas "La Tranca", que trabajan desde hace 24 años el predio "San Vicente" en el recinto La Tranca, provincia de Los Ríos. Según mis informaciones, el día viernes 18 de mayo del presente año, los señores Aragundi Rodríguez ingresaron al predio acompañados de civiles armados y militares disparando hacia los/as campesinos/as. Desde entonces, guardias armados de los supuestos propietarios prohíben la entrada al predio y la cosecha del arroz a los/as campesinos/as; incluso han impedido la entrada a una comisión gubernamental que el 13 de junio ha querido investigar la situación actual de tenencia y explotación del predio.

La dirección distrital del Instituto Nacional de Desarrollo Agrario (INDA) Guayaquil ha emitido diversas providencias contradictorias que han perjudicado a los/as campesinos/as de La Tranca y han sido interpretadas como aval de la ocupación del predio dada el 18 de mayo y la subsecuente usurpación de los sembríos de arroz cultivados por los campesinos/as. La situación es aún mucho más preocupante, ya que los derechos civiles de los/as trabajadores/as y sus defensores están siendo también violados. El Padre Eduardo Aguirre Párroco de la Iglesia El Cafetal y el Lcdo. Jesús Narváez Quinto, Secretario Ejecutivo de la Comisión Diocesana de Derechos Humanos, están siendo amenazados, acusados de subversión y enjuiciados, mientras que las mujeres de la asociación, quienes están defendiendo valientemente la ocupación de sus territorios, ya han sido amenazadas y atacadas por guardias de seguridad de los Aragundi Rodríguez.

Sr. Ministro, Ecuador es Estado Parte del Pacto Internacional de Derechos Humanos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales (PIDESC), y por lo tanto está en la obligación de proteger y respetar el derecho a la alimentación adecuada de las/os 57 campesinas/os del recinto La Tranca. En este sentido, el Estado ecuatoriano tiene la obligación de proteger de ataques por parte de terceros el acceso a la tierra y los recursos productivos de la población de La Tranca, asi como también tiene la obligación de abstenerse de auspiciar cualquier práctica que destruya o impida este acceso. La ocupación de la tierra de los/as campesinos/as de La Tranca constituye entonces una infracción del derecho internacional de derechos humanos al privar a este grupo del acceso a tierras y a su cosecha.

Considerando lo arriba expuesto y en virtud de las obligaciones asumidas por el Estado Ecuatoriano en materia de Derechos Humanos, le pido muy respetuosamente que tomar todas las medidas a su alcance para que:

- Se garantice inmediatamente a los/as campesinos/as del recinto La Tranca acceso a sus tierras y cosecha;

- Se realicen las investigaciones pertinentes para establecer las responsabilidades y sanciones correspondientes a los funcionarios y servidores del INDA involucrados en la ocupación de la tierra de los/as campesinos/as de La Tranca;

- Se resuelva el litigo de tierras del predio San Vicente de manera que se proteja y garantice el derecho a la alimentación de los/as campesinos/as de La Tranca;

- Se otorgue garantías personales al Padre Eduardo Aguirre, Párroco de la Iglesia El Cafetal, y al Lcdo. Jesús Narváez Quinto, Secretario Ejecutivo de la Comisión Diocesana de Derechos Humanos, así como a las/los habitantes del recinto La Tranca en especial las mujeres que forman parte de la Asociación de Trabajadores Agrícolas "La Tranca".

Atentamente,

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

La Vía Campesina

International Operative SEcretariat

Jalan Mampang Prapatan XIV No 5

Jakarta Selatan 12790, Jakarta - Indonesia

Tel +62 21 7991890

Fax +62 21 7993426

viacampesina@viacampesina.org

Contact Global Campaign for Agrarian REform

viacampesina_cgra@amnettgu.com

Tel: +504 235 9915 //+504 232 2198

FIAN

International Secretariat

P.O. Box 10 22 43

D - 69012 Heidelberg - Germany

Tel + 49 6221 65300 30

Fax +49 6221 830545

fian@fian.org


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