Quito, 30 January 2001

The president of the National Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) arrested by government agents

Antonio Vargas, President of the National Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) was arrested by government agents yesterday morning as he left a local radio station in Quito, Ecuador, after giving an interview.

We reject this action by the country's President and Minister of Government and denounce their incapacity to govern the country on the basis of human rights and its Constitution. They are using police and army violence with live bullets and arrests in an attempt to repress the fight against hunger, corruption and the ransacking of the State's resources and assets.

That's the way that tyrannies govern in order to protect the exclusive interests of the powerful classes who this very morning were using the media to demand strong measures by their government against the social unrest.

Around 10 people with army bullet wounds, another 30 hit by tear gas canisters, dozens more suffocated by the gas, and an unknown number of others injured by batons and chains, the razing of dozens of homes, and threats to the media to remain silent and submit to the government's authority are the only response we get from the government.

Our people's centuries-old resistance and ancient wisdom will help us overcome this repression and to defend our lives and those of future generations with dignity.

We call on the national and international communities and media to reject this authoritarianism and abuse of power, and to demand the immediate release of Antonio Vargas and the many others of our people who have been arrested.

Ricardo Ulcuango
CONAIE Vice-president

For more information:
Phone: +(593 2) 248930 or 444991
Email: info@conaie.ecuanex.net.ec