Friday, March 21, 2014

Ecuador: Ecuadorian activist detained after giving presidential caravan the "thumbs down"


On March 14th, 2014, the citizen David Marmol, an activist with the Yasunidos Collective, reported he was detained by members of the Presidential Guard and later beaten by unknown persons, for having made a "thumbs down" gesture with his hand when the presidential caravan passed by.

Marmol said that the incident occurred at about 2 p.m. in the afternoon, when he was collecting signatures in a Quito park against the oil drilling in Yasuni. At that time the presidential caravan passed by and the activist made the gesture as an expression of his disapproval of the government's oil policy.

“For that reason the last vehicle of the caravan stopped. I was taken to the ItchimbĂ­a 911, where I spent a long time without getting out of the vehicle...”, said Marmol, who also commented that after about an hour, and after being urged to apologize to the President for the alleged aggression against him, he was threatened with imprisonment from two months to six years, and later, he was taken to a community police unit, located in the historic center of the city where a "big guy" interrogated him with the intention of making Marmol admit that he had insulted the president.

Finally and after not getting any apology from Marmol, they agreed to release him with the condition of making him think over the situation. They also said that they did not want to hear from him anymore. After that, they left him on a nearby street where three men in civilian clothes attacked and punched Marmol, while a fourth recorded the situation. "They beat me so hard that they broke my watch. They said nothing to me, they did not steal anything from me, they just beat me," said the activist, who said that this case is an abuse of power.

A report on this attack was presented to the authorities on March 17th. The Yasunidos Collective condemned the attack and said that they will continue with even more strength in their work of gathering signatures.

General Luis Castro, chief of the Presidential Protection, said, in declarations published by the news outlet Ecuadorinmediato, that they were forced to intervene because of the gestures and insults against the president. He also said that the security protocols require that, in these cases, an interview is conducted to determine whether or not the potential attacker is a threat.