On July 30th, 2008 with financial and technical support from Fundación Pachamama, some of the most prominent indigenous leaders from the South Central Ecuadorian Amazon met to analyze the proposal for Ecuador’s new constitution. The encounter followed FIPSE’s official launch of its own Constitutional proposal (see above story), and took place in FIPSE’s headquarters in Makuma (a 30-minute flight from Puyo). There, FIPSE’s president, Sergio Ayuy, formally welcomed the President of CONAIE (the National Indigenous Organization) and member of Sarayaku, Marlon Santi; the President of NAE (the Achuar Nationality of Ecuador); and Raúl Petsaín, President of the Shuar Governing Council of the Cordillera del Cóndor.

The leaders, together with nearly 60 community representatives, critically reviewed the Constitutional articles that affect Indigenous Peoples. They discussed the pros and cons of the new laws, identifying which articles they would support and which articles represent violations of their collective rights and interests. Overall, however, the analysis revealed that the new Constitution presented a few key steps forward, including the recognition of Ecuador as a “plurinational” country. The leaders also applauded the Constitution’s clear commitment to respect the rights of Indigenous Peoples as recognized in international human rights instruments to which Ecuador is party, including the recently approved UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights. These factors, among others, led the workshop participants and leaders to take a positive stand in relation to the new Constitution of Ecuador.

For Fundación Pachamama, this encounter and collective analysis captures the essence of what it seeks to catalyze in the South Central Ecuadorian Amazon. It was a moment for sharing experiences and horizontal learning. It was an event that brought together the greatest leaders in the region and promoted a well-informed debate about the policies affecting Indigenous Peoples. In the end, Fundación Pachamama created the conditions for bottom-up political action in favor of Indigenous Peoples and their collective rights.