Urgent Action Alert

Assassination of Indigenous Leader and Continuing Threats of Violence against Indian Communities


On September 23, 1991, CONAIE (Confederation of Indigenous Nations of Ecuador), issued a press release denouncing the assassination of one Indigenous leader, the kidnapping and injury of several others, and a series of attacks on Indian communities on the day of September 21st, 1991.

The latest series of events have their origin in a longstanding conflict over legal rights to the land. A decree dating back to 1825 granted five Indigenous communities the rights to 15,000 hectares of land. Rights to 300 hectares of this land are being disputed by a group of local landowners, who also have legal property titles. In order to dislocate the Indigenous communities from the land in question, the owners have organized armed paramilitary groups to terrorize Indian inhabitants. In December of 1990, Indian leader Julio Cascango was killed in the same region, apparently by a paramilitary group. The army has also participated in the campaign of violence, as demonstrated by the recent detention and torture of Jose Maria Cabascango (no kin), the human rights secretary of CONAIE. The escalating violence throughout the region, and the persecution and detah threats made against Quechua Indian communities have made it implossible for the people of these communities to travel freely and safely.

The Attack of September 21st, 1991

On this date, at about 2:30 PM, an educator by the name of FELICIANO TERCERO was travelling to the Community of Churo Lozan for a meeting on bilingual school programs. He was accompanied by 20 people, among them women and children. On their way they were ATTACKED by a group of approx 400 armed persons, led by the powerful landowener WASHINGTON ALBAN. One Indian man, Virgilio Ganzino, was assassinated. Many others were wounded and ten persons were kidnapped, including Feliciano Tercero. There is no news about their fate.

Following this confrontation, the paramilitary bands went to the villages of Chine and Churo Lozan and launched a violent attack on the communities. Community members were beaten and mistreated, houses, possessions and property were destroyed, and animals were stolen.


Write to the President of Ecuador, and demand:
1) The complete dissolution of armed paramilitary groups in the countryside.
2) The detention and prosecution, to the fullest extent possible, of the men resposinble for the attacks.

President Rodrigo Borja
Palacio Nacional
Quito, Ecuador
Telex: 393-223-75 PREREP ED

Send copies to CONAIE
Los Granados 2553 y 6 de Diciembre, Quito, Ecuador

South and Mesoamerican Indian Information Center SAIIC
P.O.Box 28703, Oakland CA 94604
FAX: 415-834-4264
1212 Broadway # 830
Oakland, CA 94612/USA

(Posted to Native-l on Fri, 11 Oct 1991 by guiller@ucscd.ucsc.edu (Guillermo Delgado))