Opinion: Galapagos Rights

12 August 2021
Irene Torres
Opinion for El Universo

In virtue of the Ecuadorian judicial limbo – which does not confound and almost does not offend – that the ombudsman has named its replacement from jail. The worrying thing is that Zaida Rovira has not been slow to use her functions to remove the provincial delegate in Galapagos when he was doing his job and defending the rights of the islands.

Just by pointing a finger at the obvious, Milton Castillo has sparked international attention and thus caused concern. Nobody wants it to be known why a plane disappeared from the Isabela Island airport while in police custody, or why there is no evidence that the Galapagos Prosecutor’s Office has opened a file or case related to its landing in January 2021.

Even less has been done to find the culprits of the extraction of 185 turtles from the wild to capture them illegally and attempt to smuggle them in miserable conditions in a suitcase. But what should cause the most concern is the possible pressure from the Chinese government in response to the past seizure of the ship Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999, which was captured in Ecuadorian waters and fined 6 million dollars and was found with 6,000 sharks had been found in its holds.

At the root of this is hopeful news – that we are not a completely defenseless country, but a country where there are people who want to do the right thing. There are two precepts that inspire admiration in Europe: 

Article 71 of the Ecuadorian Constitution defends the “existence and maintenance and regeneration” of the “vital cycles, structure, functions and evolutionary processes” of nature; and article 247, which gives the State power to defend itself in our territorial sea.

Using international treaties, the Constitution, and the Penal Code, Castillo was able to demand the inspection of the criminal ship and thus create a critical precedent: Ecuador can act to defend nature regardless of the origin of the vessel. In other words, we do not have to equivocate when species belonging to the Galapagos marine habitat are indiscriminately fished in our waters.

Crimes against nature – which are highly lucrative – affect the tenuous balance of the few resources that the country has, and therefore [these crimes] have an economic impact. Just as he has spoken out about the political and moral crisis in the Municipality of Quito, Guillermo Lasso, the president of Ecuador, has the obligation to address the Ombudsman’s Office and other judicial bodies that seem to act under the influence of dark or ill interests. Furthermore, the so-named government of the meeting offered to defend the environmental cause and must not remain undaunted by the defenselessness of the Galapagueños.

The disappearance of the plane reminds us that there was hardly a government at the beginning of 2021; therefore it is expected that the current administration will make itself heard loud and strong. You have at your disposal the national and international instruments that allow you to act to prevent the industrial depredation of our heritage – you just have to be willing to face the pressures.

Read the original opinion piece via El Universo at https://www.eluniverso.com/opinion/columnistas/derechos-de-galapagos-nota/

Informing and sharing news on marine life, flora, fauna and conservation in the Galápagos Islands since 2017
© SOS Galápagos, 2021


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