Having worked with various indigenous groups in the country over several years through this non-profit project – Ecuador Eco Volunteer – I was well placed to get in touch with the leaders of the protests including various members of CONAIE – The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador.
Their demands include stopping the closure of thousands of bi-lingual schools which teach their native languages along with Spanish, stopping mining companies displacing indigenous communities and destroying the fragile ecosystems of the Andes and Amazon, ending the monopoly that multinationals like Nestle have over community water-supplies, as well as preventing changes to the constitution that would allow President Correa’s indefinite re-election sending Ecuador down the dangerous path of Venezuela.
Is It Safe To Volunteer in Ecuador During the Protests?
Political instability is nothing new in Ecuador – the government does, however, place a lot of importance on its tourism industry and the safety of tourists, which makes it safe to volunteer in Ecuador in recommended volunteer programs around the country.
I would however recommend caution if you wish to join the marches in the major cities because of the violent tactics the Ecuadorian police are known to employ to crush these protests. Its better to observe the marches, especially the larger ones, from a safe distance.