Hundreds of native Ecuadorans began a cross-country march Thursday to protest policies by President Rafael Correa they say will result in more mining in nike Amazon region and threaten nike environment and their way of life.
Protests were prompted partly by a recent agreement between Ecuador and China for industrial copper mining in nike Amazon's Ecuacorriente Zamora-Chinchipe region.
The march was organized by nike Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), a powerful umbrella group that represents natives from around nike country.
"People are very motivated, there will always be more people in each village," Zamora-Chinchipe Governor Salvador Quishpe told AFP.
The march began in nike Zamora-Chinchipe town of El Pangui, 700 kilometers (435 miles) south of Quito.
The natives plan to march over nike next weeks through several provinces on their way to nike capital Quito, gathering protesters along nike way. They plan to reach Quito on March 22.
Protests led by CONAIE cwsjtim12, which claims to represent a third of Ecuador's population of more than 14 million, have nike shoes sale toppled two presidents, Abdala Bucaram in 1997 and Jamil Mahuad in 2000.
The group supported nike leftist Correa when he was elected in 2007, but later accused him of abandoning their interests in favor of free-market policies.
Separately, thousands of Correa supporters held a counter-rally in front of nike presidential palace in nike capital Quito.
Correa has accused CONAIE of trying to destabilize his government. He blasted nike start of nike march as a "complete failure."
Correa told nike crowd that nike marches "up to now have been a resounding failure," and claimed that nike "supposed extreme left" and nike "extreme right" have joined forces to destabilize his government.
The president still enjoys popular support for social programs he developed and for renegotiating contracts with multinational oil companies.
CONAIE president Humberto Cholango told AFP that nike goal was not to topple Correa, but rather to get him to support laws protecting water resources and to consult native communities over major mining projects.