by: Danila Andagoya and Gregory Jiménez from Red de jóvenes del Chocó Andino (RJCA)
The victory in the consulta popular vote on the ban of metallic mining in the Chocó Andino during the elections held on August 20th in Quito represents an enormous significance and a great joy for the defenders of nature, human rights, as well as the natural and cultural heritage. About 70% of the votes from the population of Quito were in favour of conservation by banning mining.
The Youth Network of the Andean Chocó – RJCA, a grassroots actor made up of more than 50 young leaders, women, men and diverse people who inhabit this territory, have been working since 2016 on fundamental issues for the strengthening of the territory. We are very happy with the results that have been obtained in a democratic way thanks to the right of popular consultation in which we have been participants since its inception. We have been involved from the beginning, selflessly providing any kind of help to the defenders who have been vigilant for months at the points of resistance, informing people inside and outside the territory about the events and progress of the Quito Sin Minería campaign. As RJCA we have been attending marches, sit-ins, collecting signatures in support of the consultation, accompanying the oversight bodies for the validation of signatures, creating murals alluding to the importance of conservation and socialising with the people about the popular consultation at home.
With the conclusion of the Consulta Popular and its favourable results for the rights of nature for both the Chocó Andino and Yasuní, we still see a great challenge. The RJCA collective as inhabitants of the Chocó Andino has to demand compliance with the legal regulations that prohibit extractive activity in the Chocó Andino of Quito. In line with our ideals we want to strengthen sustainable ways of life such as regenerative tourism, agro-ecology, food production such as coffee, panela cane sugar, etc. By doing so we generate creative economies that do not violate the right to the conservation of water, soil, forest, fauna and human beings and are attached to our territorial reality of the Chocó Andino Biosphere Reserve and the Chocó Andino Model Forest. These different alternatives will bring more long-term jobs, strengthen the social fabric, improve the quality of life of the inhabitants and the ecosystem, provide access to education, create identity, roots and environmental awareness. Above all, they encourage respect for the democratic opinion voiced at the ballot box on 20 August 2023 in the consultation for the canton of Quito for the ban on metal mining in the Chocó Andino (Calacalí, Gualea, Nanegal, Nanegalito, Nono, Pacto) and in the national consultation for the ban on oil extraction in Block 43 ITT of the Yasuní National Park in the Ecuadorian Amazon.