QUITO, Ecuador (AP) – Several hundred Amazon Indians have begun a two-week march on Quito to protest the Ecuadorean government’s approval of a Chinese-operated open-pit copper mine on their traditional lands.
The march is backed by Ecuador’s main indigenous federation, CONAIE, which has been at odds with President Rafael Correa over his insistence on awarding mining concessions without the consent of the affected communities.
Correa convoked a counter-demonstration by about 10,000 supporters in Quito on Thursday, claiming CONAIE is trying to destabilize the nation.
The indigenous federation has played a key role in protests that toppled Ecuadorean presidents in the past.
It originally backed Correa after he took office in 2007, then became disillusioned.
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