Interview to Pedro Peñafiel, artisan and defender of the environment
Pedro Peñafiel works as an artisan. He tells us a little bit of his story and that as a defender of the environment he has seen the arrival of OCP to his community as something positive.
Building the OCP in Mindo made it necessary to use non conventional technology in order to minimize the damage to the environment, because this area is very rich in flora and fauna diversity, and the area has special geographical features. But our country showed the capacity to undertake projects successfully, regardless of their size or complexity.
My name is Pedro Peñafiel. I arrived in Mindo when I was 22, and I met very modest people, but nevertheless very kind, they were poor but happy. I am an artisan in carpentry and simultaneously with my learning of carpentry; I also entered the world of environmental conservation.
Given that you are a person in favor of conservation and a defender of the Earth, how did you feel when you heard that a building work of such a magnitude as the OCP was going to be built in Mindo?
There were visits and we were shown the documentation and the plans of the methodological system for the building works. Then, I understood that everything was according to building standards. I personally had a middle-of-the-road position.
For the building works, we asked that more emphasis be put on a careful building system along the 7 kilometers of the Guarumos pass. I remember I read a news article saying that "The Company OCP states that it had to raise the quality levels of its building works in that area because of the area’s sensitivity”. For this reason, Austrian technicians who had been hired came to the area and used a different system. Now I have to express that the company was right in saying that, it has spoken the truth, because we have had no problem at all along this section.
Speaking about fulfillment of duties and commitments, has OCP fulfilled what it promised?
Yes. I have never heard anybody saying that OCP failed to keep its commitments. In our case, specifically, there was confusion regarding the property rights over the area of the Guarumos section and there was a lawsuit in progress for several years. The issue was not about money, but about environmental protection. We then decided to abandon it and enter into a settlement agreement in a peaceful manner, without any more conflicts.
What is the environmental conservation training project about?
Since I am a carpenter, I got involved in this project, where we are redesigning the environmental training center. This project started 19 years ago. We receive students from schools, high-schools and universities, as well as interns, people preparing their thesis, peasant groups and people of the surrounding area. Here, they learn how to change the features of plots of land taking care of the environment, how to manage solid waste and how to use water responsibly, soil recovery, organic fertilizer, etc.
What can visitors do at the center?
We are still finishing the design of the center, but we will hold workshops. We usually teach theory 25% of the time, and 75% of the time is devoted to practice. We have books and when young curious people come over, they leave their mobile phones aside for a considerable time and start glancing through each of our books… In the floor upstairs, we will have sections dedicated to topics such as biology, amphibians, reptiles, plants, birds, mammals, etc., and visitors will be able to paint, draw and read also.