Right To Say No Gathering in the Andes Region
Shared knowledge and solidarity in anti-mining struggles
Every four year, CATAPA’s partners meet in the territory of one of the partner organisations during an exchange week. Sharing knowledge and strategies on preventing mining projects from entering, and on dealing with the impacts of the presence of mining companies on their lands enrichen the particpants. They leave with a broader geopolitical view, new ideas and possible actions for their resistance as well as for their permanence in their region, shared solidarity for the anti-mining struggles in the Andes region and renewed energy and inspiration to continue their fight.
The exchange does not linger on the theory, but goes into praxis and participants share concrete skills and tools that have helped them in their mobilisation for the protection of their lands and water. Participants return home and share possible strategies with other members of their organisations and communities and implement them where desired. The week is also a space where participants bear witness to the territory and the community of the hosting partner organisation and show support to their resistance and their chosen way of living.
Lastly, the week offers an opportunity for the partners to evaluate their collaboration with CATAPA in person and offer enough opportunities to reconnect between CATAPA and the partners, a necessity since on a day to day level shared actions and conversations take place online.
Believing in the added value of past editions and seeing this encounter as one of the essential ways to achieve communities having ways to stop mining by 2030 (one of the strategic outcomes of CATAPA), we are planning the sixth edition of this exchange week in the fall of 2023 in Ecuador.
Fall 2023: Right To Say No Gathering
During the exchange week of 2023 we will focus on the Right To Say No in the Andes region. CATAPA defends the Right To Say No because we believe that communities have the Right to Say No to mining projects and that this right must be respected and protected. Unfortunately, this right of communities is often denied and violated: local communities are not consulted, their decisions are not respected and speaking out puts environmental defenders at risk. Our partners execute their Right To Say No each day in their core activities. They do this in a plurality of ways such as mobilisations, occupations, protests, judicial claims, popular consultations and many more. The unrestrained consumption of electronics, the green transition, and individual electric mobility each day put more pressure and violate the Right to Say No of our partners and other communities impacted by mining projects.
The Right to Say No is always bound to a yes. We, along with many other movements and citizens, say ‘yes’ to a different way of organizing our society. Our partners fight to protect already existing initiatives and traditions that put people and their environment first and work to support new actions that guarantee the thriving permanence of their communities on their lands. CATAPA shares with her partners the fight for the Right To Say No and has with each partner organisation specific common working lines for the upcoming years. These working lines will be shared and strengthened during the gathering.
A concrete outcome of the gathering will be the creation of the Right To Say No Andes toolbox which can be used by the participating communities and shared by others in the region.
Program, participants and location
The program of the exchange is built together with the participants of the exchange, based on the needs and the desires of the partners and on the feedback of the last encounter. The exchange exists out of three layers of participants: The first layer consists of the representatives of the partners of CATAPA and the representatives of CATAPA, the second layer is made out of a small number of participants from affected communities that are not partners of CATAPA but have a specific knowledge and skillset they would like to share, the third layer then are Catapistas in Belgium that will not attend physically but will participate in the gathering in a digital/simultaneous format. A big part of the program is also co-lead by the hosting organisation Red de Jóvenes del Chocó Andino who knows as no other the location and the places and spaces that need to be visited.
The gathering will take place in Ecuador, in the region of the Choco Andino. In August this year a binding popular referendum will take place to vote the region free from mining. It has been a massive effort from local organisations to make it happen, of which our partner organisations in Ecuador played a big role. Hopefully the gathering will thus take place in a region free of mining and if not a region that strongly needs international support to continue their struggle against mining.
The gathering as a network and part of a global movement
The gathering does not end on the last day of the exchange week. The participants will be following up their shared goals, actions and calls for solidarity through a Right To Say No Andes network that will meet bimonthly online and in a next encounter will again come together in a location of resistance. This encounter and network are connected to a web of global struggles against mining. There will be a direct information and action transfer to the international Yes to Life No to Mining Network as well as the Thematic Social Forum on Mining and Extractivsm, of which participants representing these networks will be present.