Shrimp producers demand urgent measures to reduce the risk that prevents normal development of their activity . (Photo: J.E. Holguin Wilson, FIS)
Shrimp producers require measures to curb thefts
Friday, December 17, 2010, 02:20 (GMT + 9)
The 13 unions and associations of producers in the National Chamber of Aquaculture (CNA) reported receiving no answers or solutions from the Government about the wave of crime and insecurity that affect the shrimp sector.
For this reason, they sent another letter to the President of the Republic, Rafael Correa Delgado, and other institutions with competence in the area, which requires the development of measures to put a stop to rising crime.
Farmers say in a statement that the State has the obligation to "safeguard the life of all Ecuadorians, and in this case the thousands of small, medium and large producers cornered by criminal mafias."
Cesar Monge, president of the CNA, stressed that the unions, associations and cooperatives of the country's shrimp production are "alarmed by the significant and increasing recidivism in cases of assaults and robberies."
Producers demand the Government take the following urgent measures to reduce the impact and the risk that prevents normal development of their activity:
- Jointly develop between the public and the private sector, a productive safety program with clear responsibilities, objectives and measurable targets in time.
- Identify and implement urgently the provision of tools, equipment and personnel that will allow the authority to comply with the coordination of job security and the investment of thousands of producers now in the hands of organized gangs.
- Review in an objective, the need to allow greater flexibility in exceptional portability of weapons for shrimp operations that now need to immediately strengthen safety and security.
The industry complains about the lack of police protection, but especially government protection. Last year, the government banned the use of weapons, leaving the shrimp producers defensless.
"The Navy is unable to protect us, so when 15 to 20 heavily armed men attack us, we can not defend ourselves," said Segundo Calderón a few days ago, chairman of the Guild of Shrimp Producers of El Oro, to Diario Hoy.
Although no official statistics exist because crimes go unreported due to fear of reprisals, the CNA says that thefts occur frequently.
In each assault roughly 10,000 to 15,000 pounds of shrimp (about 4.5 to 6 tonnes) is taken, representing approximately USD 25,000. These criminal acts are detrimental mainly to small and medium producers.
The aquaculture sector believes that the deterioration of national security created an environment conducive to the activities of the mafia with "criminals dressed as sailors and police, raiding and attacking the producers."
Also, they complain that the mafia charge "kickbacks" to producers in exchange for "protection." "We pay for information that let us know what day we will be attacked," complains Monge.
For its part, the shrimp sector promised to generate a process of regularization and formalization of existing products to reduce the informality of the activity.
By Silvina Corniola