URGENT PUBLIC STATEMENT Murder of pregnant nature defender in Molleturo

The nature defender, Alba Bermeo Puin, a resident of the parish of Molleturo, Azuay province, Cuenca canton, was MURDERED in the early hours of 22 October by people involved in gold mining activities.

On 21 October, at around 10pm, people who are involved in mining activities from the community of Cochapamba and from the Ponce Enriquez canton, places close to the concession, took two vans to the EcuaGoldmining S.A. mining concession with the aim of removing material containing gold from there. These people loaded a truck with material and arrived at a place known as “Tamarindo '' via Naranjal-Cuenca at around midnight. They were searched by the police, who found material containing gold and proceeded to stop the vehicle. At this moment, people from the community arrived and demanded that the material be returned to the town of Molleturo, and argued that the truck and the material must be verified. Therefore, discussing and applying a collective decision that sought to resolve the conflict, they escorted the truck in the direction of the Molleturo parish. The defender was returning from a trip in her tow truck with her brother, and they found themselves at the Tamarindo checkpoint, coming from behind the truck. About 100 metres from the entrance to the Cochapamba road, in the middle of the street, unrecognisable people emerged and fired a gun directly at the tow truck, hitting the chest of the defender, who was in her fifth month of pregnancy.