Ecuador court rules that river in capital has rights

A court in Quito ruled that the Machángara River, which runs through the city, possesses rights under the Constitution of Ecuador, making the municipal government responsible for keeping it free from pollution, a local civic advocacy group reported July 5.

The court recognized the river as a living entity, subject to rights under Chapter 7 of the Constitution, which establishes that nature possesses a right to protection, promotion and restoration. The provision states that "all persons, communities, peoples or nations are able to call on public authorities to enforce the rights of nature." The Constitutional Court of Ecuador in January 2022 recognized that rivers are protected under Chapter 7.

Ecuador votes to approve tightened security measures

Ecuadorians voted to approve a number of security proposals from President Daniel Noboa on April 21 as the South American country experiences a surge in violence that has claimed the lives of multiple public officials. Among the proposals was a measure to amend Ecuador's constitution to allow the armed forces to fight organized crime alongside the police. Voters also approved four additional proposals, including one to allow the extradition of Ecuadorian nationals, another to establish new courts to clear judicial backlogs, a third to allow the country to send disputes with investors to international arbitration, and a fourth to recognize fixed-term employment contracts.

Mexico cuts ties with Ecuador after embassy raid

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced April 5 the suspension of diplomatic ties with Ecuador following the forcible entry of Ecuadorian police into the Mexican embassy in Quito and the subsequent arrest of the country's former vice president Jorge Glas. These events occurred one day after the Ecuadorian government decided to expel the Mexican ambassador Raquel Serur in response to statements made by López Obrador.

2023: 'bonkers year' for global climate

Records were once again broken last year for greenhouse gas levels, surface temperatures, ocean heat and acidification, sea level rise, and retreat of glaciers, according to a new global report issued by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) March 19. The WMO State of the Global Climate 2023 report finds that on an average day that year, nearly one third of the ocean surface was gripped by a marine heatwave, harming vital ecosystems and food systems—far beyond the already inflated levels seen in recent years. Antarctic sea ice reached its lowest extent on record—at one million square kilometers below the previous record year of 2022, an area equivalent to the size of France and Germany combined. Observed concentrations of the three main greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide—reached record levels in 2022 and continued to increase in 2023, preliminary data shows. (UN News)

'State of armed conflict' declared in Ecuador

Ecuador's President Daniel Noboa on Jan. 8 declared a 60-day state of emergency in the country after the escape of Adolfo Macías Villamar AKA "Fito," leader of Los Choneros narco-gang, from Littoral Penitentiary in Guayaquil. Macías had been serving a 34-year sentence since 2011 for drug trafficking, murder, and organized crime. As news broke of his disappearance, six other correctional facilities across the country exploded into riots. The situation escalated the following day, when hooded gunmen interrupted a live television broadcast in Guayaquil, taking reporters and staff hostage. Noboa responded by declaring a state of "internal armed conflict" in the country, ordering security forces to "neutralize" designated "terrorist organizations" and "non-state actors," including Los Choneros, Los Lobos and Los Tiguerones narco-gangs. (Jurist, CNN, BBC News, NYT, AFP, InfoBae, La República)

Ecuador: court orders return of Siekopai homeland

In what is being hailed as an historic decision, on Nov. 24, an appeals court in Ecuador ordered the return of a 42,360-hectare expanse of the Amazon rainforest to the Siekopai indigenous people, generations after they were driven from the territory by the military. The Provincial Court of Sucumbios ruled that the Siekopai (also known as Secoya) retain indigenous title to their ancestral homeland, known as Pë’këya, which lies along the border with Peru in remote country.

Kenya-led intervention force approved for Haiti

The UN Security Council voted Oct. 2 to approve a multi-national armed force led by Kenya to combat the violent gangs that have made Haiti ungovernable—marking the first time in nearly 20 years that foreign forces are to be deployed to the Caribbean nation. The resolution authorizes the Multinational Security Support mission to deploy for one year, with a review after nine months. Drafted by the US and Ecuador, the resolution was approved with 13 votes in favor and two abstentions, from Russia and China. (AP, PRI, Jurist)

UN: poverty, oppression at root of Ecuador crisis

UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty & Human Rights Olivier De Schutter issued a report Sept. 8, citing impoverishment and exploitation as the "root cause" of the fast-mounting violence and instability in Ecuador. Following a 12-day visit to the country, De Schutter warned against a purely militarized response to the crisis that ignores social and economic factors. The report states:

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