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Ecuador’s green president pushes massive Chinese mine

QUITO, Ecuador — President Rafael Correa was once the toast of environmentalists around the world after his government adopted a groundbreaking new constitution that recognized “the rights of nature.”

The 2008 constitution even used the words “Pacha Mama” — the indigenous Quechua language’s term for the “Earth Mother.” It stipulated that the state “will incentivize” citizens to respect and protect her ecological cycles.

But now, Correa finds himself accused of hypocrisy as his bid to push through a huge $1.77 billion open-pit copper mine in the Amazon has aroused the wrath of the country’s powerful indigenous minority.

According to the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE by its Spanish initials), the El Mirador mine, run by Chinese company Ecuacorriente, would lead to the ravaging of around 450,000 acres of spectacularly diverse cloud forest that is the ancestral territory of the Shuar people.

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa says: “We cannot be beggars sitting on a bag of gold.”

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