Paúl Jarrín Mosquera is leading the indigenous resistance against the Chinese colonization of Ecuador. This puts him up against Ecuadorian state power, which defends the Chinese economic interests with full force.
‘The mine destroys our way of life, our worldview,’ says Paúl Jarrín Mosquera. ‘The way we relate to the land, to life, to water, our income, our livelihood.’ He is talking about the Chinese-controlled Río Blanco mine in the Ecuadorian municipality of Molleturo. ‘If we let them turn Molleturo into a mining camp, all the future will bring us is death and disease.’
At the start of Marc Wiese’s documentary This Stolen Country of Mine, co-directed by Carlos Andrés Vera, we see Paúl in a car heading to the place where local villagers have blocked the road to the mine. Upon his arrival, Paúl is immediately apprehended by the military police, which has come out in big numbers.
But Río Blanco is just one example of the growing and far-reaching Chinese influence in Ecuador. Having made the country dependent on its credit, China secured thousands of contracts with the Ecuadorian government. China now has control over many essential projects all over the country, from gold and uranium mines to telecommunication and the construction of buildings and roads. These contracts reach far into the future.
This handing over of economic power began under the presidency of Rafael Correa, who called China ‘a strategic partner in our transformation process’. According to critics such as journalist Fernando Villavicencio, who also features in This Stolen Country of Mine, China not only took economic control, but also political control. As Villavicencio says: ‘We’ve been colonized. Again.’
It is truly a David and Goliath story for Paúl Jarrín Mosquera. But even as he becomes a bigger target for the authorities, he won’t think of quitting. ‘The resistance continues. In spite of being persecuted, criminalized, in spite of evil governments and corporations wanting us dead,’ he says at the end of the film, after having just escaped a raid by the military police. ‘The struggle goes on.’
This Stolen Country of Mine is shown at the Movies that Matter Festival 2023, where Paúl Jarrín Mosquera will be a special guest.