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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 September, 2004, 10:33 GMT 11:33 UK
Strike forces Galapagos boss out
Galapagos park wardens block the path of director Cepeda
Wardens blocked Cepeda's entry
Park wardens in the Galapagos Islands have forced the sacking of their boss in a row over conservation.

Around 300 wardens went on strike for more than two weeks in protest at the appointment of Fausto Cepeda.

They said he was on the side of local fishermen who cared little for the Galapagos' fragile ecosystem.

He was dismissed by the Ecuadorean government after the strike, which paralysed tourism to the islands - the country's top visitor attraction.

Valuable sealife

Environmental Minister Fabian Valdivieso told reporters that the government decided to "remove [Fausto] Cepeda from the post", after meeting a delegation of rangers in the capital Quito.

Ecuadorean President Lucio Gutierrez was criticised by environmentalists and the tourist industry when he replaced respected biologist Edwin Naula as park director.

Fishermen force their way past a strike in the Galapagos islands
Fishermen forced Cepeda past the strike
The critics said the move was designed to appease commercial fishermen, who want to increase their catches of valuable sealife sold on to the Asian market.

After his appointment Mr Cepeda had been escorted to the islands - through a picket of striking wardens - by fishermen wielding clubs and machetes.

Mr Valdivieso said a park biologist would take over as interim director, until a new candidate could be agreed with environmental groups.

"The strike is over," protest leader Xavier Castro said in response.

The work stoppage had affected the breeding grounds of the famous giant tortoises on the islands that inspired Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.


SEE ALSO:
Police 'restore' Galapagos order
23 Sep 04  |  Americas
Minister quits amid Galapagos row
04 Mar 04  |  Americas
Galapagos tortoises held hostage
27 Feb 04  |  Americas
Alert sounds for turtles and tortoises
14 May 03  |  Science/Nature
Extinction nears for whales and dolphins
14 May 03  |  Science/Nature
Glimpse of Darwin's legacy
24 Sep 02  |  Science/Nature
Glory of the Galapagos
22 Jan 01  |  Americas


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