Unjust Democracy: Unconstitutional Practices and Neocolonial Policies in the Ecuadorian Amazon
The lives of the indigenous peoples of the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest have become increasingly desperate due to long-standing and persistent environmental contamination in various sectors of the Amazon territory.
This has led to intense social mobilization on the part of the indigenous population, who argue the State has abrogated its responsibility to protect its people from extreme environmental contamination caused by companies that extract natural resources.
Existing environmental legislation in Ecuador protects the right of civilians to participate in the decision-making process when it comes to the exploitation of natural resources. Thus, official state and news accounts promote the participation of communities in the formulation and planning of extraction, and the participation of civil society in the Decentralized System of Environmental Management which was established to address environmental and natural resource management. Despite this, aboriginal communities have felt left out of the discussion, and find the state unresponsive to their concerns, a flagrant violation of Ecuador’s environmental legislation.
The violation of the bilateral contracts between extracting companies and the State are breaches of Ecuadorian environmental law and its Constitutional Charter, the constitutional and human rights of citizens, and against the State’s own territorial patrimony. These circumstances have lead to an investigation which raises the following questions:
- What are the gaps between what is written in the law and what is routinely allowed when it comes to environmental legislation?
- How can these gaps be closed so that Ecuador’s current environmental legislation is reflected and becomes a reality, and is not simply legislative rhetoric?
About the Speakers
Joyce Sanchez Espinoza
Joyce Sanchez Espinoza is the founder and director of Intercultural Cardboard Press / Cartonera Intercultural and currently serves as County Committee Member for District 37, Queens, NYC; Secretary of the Family Preservation Committee in National Action Network, NYC Chapter, parent advocate for Parents in Action, Inc, a Queens community based non-for-profit organization and community. She also hosts a weekly radio show “Parents in Action” at Radio Impacto 105.5 FM in NYC. She led the Visual Arts Program of Centro Cultural Barco de Papel from 2016-2018 managing several art projects for the artistic community in Queens. She studied Intercultural Pedagogy and Anthropology in Linkoping University and Stockholm University, Sweden from 1996-2000 and Visual Arts at LaGuardia Community College, NYC in 2015. Joyce has participated in several academic art events, art shows as an interculturalist visual artist and writer Her work is related to social justice causes and cultural and political identity, such as Bordersongs, a poetry book title published in 2016 and The Bird Man, Waranka Llimpi, published in 2011. She currently serves in the collective Coalition of Artists For The Amazon.
“La Amazonia Ecuatoriana no tiene bandera política. Es suelo patrio y patrimonio nacional donde yace la soberanía del pueblo. Quien no la defienda no es digno de llamarse ecuatoriano.” Jese Artist
“The Ecuadorian Amazon does not have a political flag. It is homeland and national heritage where the sovereignty of the people lies. Whoever does not defend it is not worthy of being called Ecuadorian. “Jese Artist
Rafael Navarrete Espinoza
- Jurist / Sculptor / Artivist
- Founder of Human Rights and Judicial Obervatory Vigilantes de la Justicia, 2006
- Founder of Vigilantes de la Justicia Newspaper, 2009
- Heroes and Heroines Sculpture, 2020
- Sculpture The Key, 2021
- Sculpture, Peñón del Rio, 2021
- Murals Cultural Walk Change the Page, Duran, Guayaquil, Ecuador. October 2021
In 2006, Rafael with other legal professionals founded the constitutional judicial oversight, Vigilantes de la Justicia as judicial oversight with the idea of counteracting. As an artivist against judicial corruption, he performed Rat Trap outside the court in the city of Guayaquil in 2009 as a symbol of “catching corrupt judges”, succeeding in this process to prevent questioned judges from joining the National Court of Justice. Rafael as a jurist, and artivist has initiated various lawsuits against corrupted judges and local authorities since 2006 in different matters including the environmental issues. He collaborated in the book Unjust Democracy: Ecuadorian Amazon. Unconstitutional Practices and Neocolonial Policies.