My Sea Shepherd


 

Ecuadorian Government Surrenders to Violent Thugs Once Again

May 29, 2004

Ecuadorian Government Surrenders to Violent Thugs Once Again

The government of Ecuador has become so weak and incompetent that a small mob of uneducated fishermen are routinely able to threaten a World Heritage Site by utilizing threats and violence.

Once again the fishermen thugs of the Galapagos have bullied the government of Ecuador into giving into their demands.

Yesterday, the Galapagos National Park rangers were braced to defend the offices of the National Park and the offices of the Darwin Research Center. Forty marines were called in to reinforce the guards.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society sent a crew of volunteers to the Park to assist the rangers and to act as bodyguards to the giant tortoise Lonesome George, the last of his sub-species.

The fishermen had threatened to kidnap or kill Lonesome George unless the government gave into their demands.

And once again the government capitulated.

Jared Rubin, Communications officer of the Farley Mowat, anchored in Academy Bay off Santa Cruz Island filed the following report on the events of this past week.

 

Over the past week there had been rumors circulating around the National Park headquarters in Puerto Ayora as to the timing and tone of an impending protest by local fishermen.  For a week the fishermen have been saber rattling here and on the island of Isabela .

At first, the fishermen agreed to a fishery opening with restrictions. They then rejected that decision and began to demand an opening with no restrictions, plus other demands. Then they demanded that a high level ministerial authority, whose president is the Minister of the Environment, meet to discuss their demands.

They attempted to disrupt the meeting with the ludicrous demand that the meeting be moved from the Ecuadorian capital of Quito scheduled yesterday to Isla San Cristobal next Thursday.

The request was considered outrageous by many because it required the delegates who did attend the meeting in Quito , to cancel their meeting and instead draft a resolution to change the place (by hundreds of miles) and time of the meeting they thought they were already attending.

The demands were irrational. The fishermen were just looking for an excuse to flex their muscles, and to demonstrate that they could hold the Park Wardens, the Charles Darwin Foundation and the whole of Isla Santa Cruz hostage at will.

The fishermen went so far on Thursday night as to seize the only gas station on the island and impede traffic on the main road from Puerto Ayora to Isla Baltra. Their strategy immediately backfired when many citizens suddenly deprived of basic freedoms recognized the culprits for the thoughtless, uneducated and insatiably greedy thugs they are.

The money which will support the children of the citizens of Galapagos will come from sustainable tourism, not the reckless strip mining of natural resources to appease the Asian markets.

Instead of taking advantage of the resolve of the rangers and the marines to defend the National Park and the disgust of the citizens, the Minister of Environment, Fabian Valdivieso rolled over like a sinking ship and gave into to the fishermen's outlandish demands.

His work will be complete, and another nail will be hammered into the coffin of this World Heritage Site when the rest of the fishermen's demands are met and the last of the sea cucumber sanctuaries are opened to unrestricted desecration and the already inflated quotas are discarded.

The Galapagos is weaker today because its leaders are unwilling to test the dedication of the Galapagonian and Ecuadorian people to protecting their unique possession. Their cringing, cowering to an immediate social agenda, at the expense of irreplaceable natural resources, will doom their country to economic and social disaster.

 

Jared reporting to Captain Paul Watson who is presently in Colorado said that the Farley Mowat's crew was ready and willing to defend the Park alongside the rangers and the marines.

Captain Watson will be returning to the Galapagos next week to work with his crew to prepare for the chaos of the sea cucumber fishery scheduled to open at the beginning of June.

It is evident that the fishermen of the Galapagos consider themselves to be above the law and answerable to no one but themselves.

The sea cucumber population has been drastically diminished yet they are demanding unrestricted exploitation.

When the sea cucumbers have been destroyed the fishermen plan to intimidate the government into allowing the use of longlines to exploit the sharks of the Galapagos.

These sharks are one of the mainstays of the Galapagos tourist industry and their destruction will be a tragedy for the environment and an economic tragedy for all those employed in the tourist industry.

What is happening in the Galapagos is the systematic willful over-exploitation of the entire marine reserve. This World Heritage site is being raped and pillaged for short- term gain.

The long-term ecological and economic outlook for the Galapagos is looking depressingly bleak.

Unfortunately the political "decision-makers" in Quito are only concerned with being elected for another term and apparently have little concern for the long-term survival of the Galapagos.

The management of marine resources in Ecuador is not guided by science or economics. Instead the management is dictated by mob violence.

What is happening in the Galapagos is an ecological crisis and it is reflective of the greater crisis worldwide . Rising human populations give rise to more demands for resource exploitation leading to all marine resources being overly stressed.

The Galapagos is a National Park and the waters surrounding the Park are a National Marine Reserve and both the Park and the Reserve are World Heritage Sites designated by the United Nations.

Yet we cannot even stop over-exploitation in a protected national park and World Heritage Site. How can we possibly protect natural resources that don't have even this so called "protection".

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is asking that people write, fax, or e-mail the Ecuadorian government through the embassies in their countries and demand that the government stand up to the mob of violent thugs terrorizing the Galapagos.

 

El presidente Lucio Gutiérrez , Presidente de la Republica del Ecuador
Fax: 593-2-580-735
E-mail: monica.iza@presidencia.gov.ec

Embassy of Ecuador UK
Flat 3, 3 Hans Crescent
London
SW1X 0LS
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 75842648
Fax: +44 (0)20 78239701
Consulate of Ecuador Canada
50 O'Connor Street, Suite 113
Ottawa, ON K1P 6L2
Tel: (613) 563-8206
Fax: (613) 235-5776
Consulate of Ecuador USA
2535 15th Street, NW
Washington, D.C.  20009
Tel: (202) 234-7166
Fax: (202) 667-3482
e:mail: consuladodc@ecuador.org
website: http://www.ecuador.org
Other Embassies and Consulates of Ecuador


 

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