Socialist Worker

Trade unionists and turtles—united at last

by Ecuador
Issue No. 1922

PARK WARDENS on the tiny Galapagos islands have won an environmental victory after two weeks of strikes.

The government of Ecuador, which governs the Galapagos, appointed Fausto Cepeda as the new director of the national park which covers most of the 15-island archipelago.

The 300 park wardens feared that Cepeda was appointed for political reasons by president Lucio Gutierrez, who is manoeuvring to hold onto his majority in parliament.

Both Gutierrez and Cepeda are in favour of weakening restrictions on commercial fishing around the islands.

Park wardens responded to the appointment by occupying research stations around the park and picketing.

They stood firm as fishermen from the Ecuadorian mainland attacked them with stones, saws and cutlasses.

Police eventually took control over the park and installed Cepeda in the director’s office.

But after 17 days of strikes the park wardens forced the government to remove Cepeda from office.

Their victory will help preserve one of the world’s unique ecosystems, including giant sea turtles.

Wildlife on the archipelago, which is located in the Pacific Ocean, 600 miles west of the mainland, has evolved largely in isolation from the rest of the world. Studying the Galapagos islands helped to inspire Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection.

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Sat 9 Oct 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1922
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