A story of elemental resistance

In ancient times and in many parts of the world, water could only be obtained with great effort. For this reason a true cult was offered to this element. Humans felt in it the presence of certain divinities and approached it with respect. As western societies discovered the physical laws of water and applied them to the benefit of technology, the ancient wisdom about the soul and spirit of this element was forgotten. Since then, the essence of what water is not taken intoaccount, but only its material value, with the exception of many communities where a more harmonious relationship with water is still maintained and it is considered a sacred element. For Vandana Shiva, scientist and activist, “water is the very blood of life. Seventy percent of the planet, 70 percent of the plants, 70 percent of our body is water. Without water there is no life. Water circulates through all species and through the hydrological cycle, which connects us all in a community. It is the community of water.” Shiva, 2013.

In Cuenca - Ecuador, water can still be drunk from the tap, Azuay is the only province in the country where this is possible, the reason is it have moors and rivers, and these have been preserved in an acceptable manner for years. Today Cajas National Park and several moorlands, without any level of protection, are surrounded by 10 large scale mining corporations that want to extract metals precisely from the moorlands that are part of this important ecosystem, inevitably using water to process the extraction leaving behind permanent acid drainage that alters the balance that has been maintained for thousands or millions of years in the moorlands. From this water we drink, we cook, among other activities, in this research we want to look at water not only as an ecosystem service but as a whole that is “part of our being”. We want to see water as “an incredibly active, interrelated medium on which all life-creating processes are based.” (Schwenk, 1988) After several years of dispute, last February 7, 2021, a popular consultation was held for the first time, in which 80% voted for the prohibition of large and medium scale mining in water sources such as the moorlands. However, the Constitutional Court established that such prohibition would only be applied “towards the future”. In other words, it would not apply to mining projects that are already underway.

The importance of the paramo is not only local but universal and is not individual but communal, seen as a whole that connects the Andes with the Amazon. It is from these hydrological processes that climatic patterns allow humans, plants and animals to live. Although there have been some investigations and reports that cover the topic. ON WATER A STORY OF ELEMENTAL RESISTANCE Most of them are very brief and shallowly covered, focusing mainly on the mining conflict and political perspective. Our main proposal as a collective would be to cover the story from a wide variety of points of view, such as local residents, activists, specially rural women who are also historical activists and ecologists and who relate to water in a deeper and special way.

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