CONAIE Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador

At the global level, we live in a vulnerable situation: humanity is living through very rapid changes, the things that seemed to have been established have fallen, dogmas have become out of date, the socialist system has crumbled, capitalism is in crisis, one part of the world tends towards homogenization while the rest is entangled in bloody ethnic struggles. All of this indicates that we are living in the middle of a global crisis, a crisis which is transitory because it will lead us to a new human condition.

The Latin American Left, after the decomposition of the socialist world, today finds itself disoriented , and actually causing confusion when it states that there are no ideological or political positions, but we must fight so that our countries can rise out of under-development. We ask, what will be the cost?

In our country, with so many changes, it seems that some social movements have lost their perspective. There are no reference points for their struggle, and they offer no concrete proposals. The consequences can be clearly seen; the Right has gained control of the State, on top of the control over the economy, which it has always held.


There exists currently a struggle for people's identity, to regain their rights, here, in the continent, and in the world. We do not believe that this struggle should be violent, as that will not take us anywhere. What we do know is that we, as indigenous peoples, as the original peoples of the world, have our identity as our only reference point.

The principle of identity, which represents the present struggle of the Peoples of the world, is gaining strength internationally. When we speak of identity we refer not only to the culture of which we are the bearers, but also to the methods of nourishment, way of life, social organization, the way in which we see the world, etc. This global perspective allows us to see beyond certain political dogmas that have been imposed upon us.

The indigenous movement, with its search for the principles of identity, could serve as a reference point for the rest of Ecuadorian society, since it is a project not only for us but for everyone. The indigenous problem concerns all Ecuadorians, the government and the governed. Now that there is no political orientation, the struggle for identity, to know who we are, to recuperate our roots-if indeed we have lost them could provide the way in which we can walk strongly, and firmly into the future.


In this context we see that confrontation between different social movements is not necessary and instead we should look for agreement, maintaining our differences and respecting each others proportions. During these times when we are victims of a package of economic methods that is taking us into more absolute poverty, we are left with no alternative other than unity in order to meet our common objectives.The forceful imposition of these methods, with the decree that militarizes the country, will not be able to quiet us. We cannot remain calm in the face of this situation that is a moral attack not only for the indigenous people but also for the majority of Ecuadorians.

Compensatory Measures

The Compensatory Measures do not offer even a handful of help in relation to the new economic policies. We want to make clear that we will defend all of the achievements that we have obtained from previous governments. Traditionally we have fought for our rights to education, health, and to other services that the state has the obligation to offer, such as help for mothers and children. There is no way that the government can sweep away these conquests with a decree. Bilingual Education cannot be the object of political negotiations or delegation of government jobs. We want the accords we have made with previous governments to be respected. We will defend services such as the Community Network, Campesino Insurance, School Breakfast and the Huahua Huasi(Quichua for child care center) because our organizations are members and benefit from them.


The government talks about reactivating the economic apparatus, and they employ methods that go against the people. For us, modernization means reactivating the productive apparatus, both in the city and in the country. Our country is agricultural; the state needs to contemplate the problems of all social sectors and steer support accordingly to small and medium-sized producers.

We, as the Indigenous Movement, think in the following terms:

-Land: The recuperation of our lands and the defense of our territories.

-Production: We need support from the state in terms of technical support, credit, irrigation, etc. We provide the country with nourishment, and we need to reactivate the economy in the country.

-Commercialization: Our intention is to create communal business in order to better market our products. We do not want middlemen.

The Constitution

Modernizing the State also means Modernizing the Constitution. We need to create a new one that is our own, and not continue with copies of old constitutions from other countries, as we have done up until now. In the constitutional reform we refer in particular to Article 1, which should confirm that Ecuador is a plurinational, pluricultural country, legally recognizing the existence of the diversity of peoples and cultures that have always lived here. We want to have legal autonomy over our manner of organizing, producing and living, with our history, our language, our customs and beliefs.

The indigenous movement has put the following concepts on the discussion table: territoriality, plurinationality, nationality, identity. These themes must be discussed at the national level since they potentially affect everyone. All of this means modernization.

INTERNET: OR UUCP: cdp!ecuanex!conaie!ccc
P.O.Box: Casilla 17171235, Quito, ECUADOR.
Direcci' on: Los Granados 2553 y 6 de Diciembre, Quito, ECUADOR.
Tel' efono: (593-2) 248930 TeleFax: (593-2) 442271

(Written during December 1992 in Native-l by CONAIE,