Ecuador's Galapagos Park Rangers End Strike
QUITO, Ecuador Galapagos park rangers have ended a strike that had blocked tourist sites in the exotic islands for more than two weeks after the Ecuadorean government accepted their demands for a change in park leadership.
"The strike is over," protest leader Xavier Castro told Reuters.
Some 300 rangers went on strike on Sept. 10 to demand that President Lucio Gutierrez backtrack on his decision to remove Galapagos Park Director Edwin Naula and replace him with biologist Fausto Cepeda in a move they called political.
Cepeda called for expanding tourism in the islands and had worked with fishermen unions that have clashed with conservationists over how to manage the archipelago that inspired British naturalist Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection.
Demonstrators said Gutierrez was using the park director's seat to appeal to political independents in Congress to shore up his own political party, which has just five of the legislature's 100 seats.
Castro said that Environment Minister Fabian Valdivieso had temporarily replaced Cepeda with a Galapagos park technician, Victor Carrion, and would select a new director after consulting with conservation organizations. A source from the Environment Ministry confirmed the change.
Rangers had shut down key tourist sites like tortoise breeding centers and clashed with authorities at park headquarters over Cepeda's appointment.
Ecuador is facing growing pressure from international conservation organizations to step up controls in the world-famous islands 625 miles west of the mainland that are home to sea lions and exotic birds.