By David Hill, February 19, 2014. Source: The Guardian
A demonstrator holds a sign that reads in Spanish ‘Ecuador doesn’t love life’ during a protest outside the government palace in Ecuador, August 2013 at plans to adandon the initiative where rich countries would pay Ecuador not to drill for oil in the pristine Yasuni rainforest. Photograph: Dolores Ochoa/AP
The Ecuadorian government was negotiating a secret $1bn deal with a Chinese bank to drill for oil under the Yasuni national park in the Amazon while pursuing a high-profile scheme to keep the oil under the ground in return for international donations, according to a government document seen by the Guardian.
The proposed behind-the-scenes deal, which traded drilling access in exchange for Chinese lending for Ecuadorian government projects, will dismay green and human rights groups who had praised Ecuador for its pioneering Yasuni-ITT Initiative to protect the forest. Yasuni is one of the most biodiverse places in the world and home to indigenous peoples – some of whom are living in what Ecuador’s constitution calls “voluntary isolation”.
The initiative – which was abandoned by Ecuador’s government last year – is seen as a way to protect the Amazon, biodiversity and indigenous peoples’ territories, as well as combat climate change, break Ecuador’s dependency on oil and avoid causing the kind of social and environmental problems already caused by oil operations in the Ecuadorian rainforest. Continue reading
December 5, 2013. Source: The Pachamama Alliance
The Ecuadorian government should immediately reverse their illegal and arbitrary effort to dissolve Fundación Pachamama, the organization’s San Francisco based sister group said today. Yesterday, December 4th, plain-clothes police officers in Quito, Ecuador, appeared at the offices of Fundación Pachamama and proceeded to shut down their facilities. The action was backed up by a resolution from the Ministry of Environment ordering the dissolution of the organization for “interference in public policy” and “threatening the internal security and peace” of the country.
The government’s action comes on the heels of indigenous protests last week against Ecuador’s plans to open some 2.6 million hectares of rainforest to new oil drilling. The oil auction only received three offers, and was widely deemed a failure. President Correa lashed out in a weekend television address, falsely accusing Fundación Pachamama of fomenting violence during a demonstration in front of the Ministry of Hydrocarbons, though no members of the organization were involved. Fundación Pachamama plans to appeal the government’s decision before the Ministry of the Environment.
“The real reason the government has targeted Fundación Pachamama is because of the effectiveness of their work,” said Bill Twist, CEO and co-founder of The Pachamama Alliance, their sister organization based in San Francisco. “This is an attempt to keep them from doing their work, and chill their rights to free speech and assembly,” he continued.
This dissolution is considered an arbitrary act that seeks to repress Fundación Pachamama’s legitimate right to disagree with the government’s policies, such as the decision to turn over Amazonian indigenous people’s land to oil companies, in direct violation of their constitutional rights.
Note: Thanks, Patrick for offering another perspective on the Yasuni oil drilling debacle (though we still don’t believe that money can solve the problems caused by capitalism…)
–The GJEP Team
From Patrick Bond 7 October 2013:
Dear GJEP, I always am in unity with your arguments, but on this intro note - http://climate-connections.org/2013/10/05/ecuador-congress-approves-yasuni-basin-oil-drilling-in-amazon/ - my disagreements with your wording/analysis are as follows (while ultimately agreeing with you that the site is so valuable that it should not be wrecked by the Correa government, no matter whether payment is made):
“A perfect example of why holding critical biodiversity reserves hostage
“This ‘hostage’ metaphor is unfair, even a caricature. Plan A was agreed on by virtually everyone after Accion Ecologica and Connai proposed it and Alberto Acosta took it to Correa in 2007: the North should pay $3.6 bn to leave the Yasuni oil in the soil. One rationale: the North owes what Accion Ecologica has long called an “ecological debt”, for which this project might be considered a mere downpayment,
“and demanding payment for their protection”
Note: A perfect example of why holding critical biodiversity reserves hostage and demanding payment for their protection (AKA payment for environmental services) is a really stupid and dangerous idea. How about instead turning these areas over to the forest dependent and Indigenous Peoples who have kept them intact all this time–of right, no money in that. Gotta love “Green” Capitalism!
–The GJEP Team
By REUTERS, October 3, 2013 Source: New York Times
QUITO — Ecuador’s parliament on Thursday authorized drilling of the nation’s largest oil fields in part of the Amazon rainforest after the failure of President Rafael Correa’s plan to have rich nations pay to avoid its exploitation.
The socialist leader launched the initiative in 2007 to protect the Yasuni jungle area, which boasts some of the planet’s most diverse wildlife, but scrapped it after attracting only a small fraction of the $3.6 billion sought.
The government-dominated National Assembly authorized drilling in blocks 43 and 31, but attached conditions to minimize the impact on both the environment and local tribes.
Though Correa says the estimated $22 billion earnings potential will be used to combat poverty in the South American nation, there have been protests from indigenous groups and green campaigners.
About 680,000 people have signed a petition calling for a referendum.
“We want them to respect our territory,” Alicia Cauilla, a representative of the Waorani people who live around the Yasuni area, said in an appeal to the assembly.
“Let us live how we want.”
Correa has played down the potential impact of oil drilling in the area, saying it would affect only 0.01 percent of the entire Yasuni basin.
A U.S.-trained economist, Correa has won broad popular support among Ecuador’s low-income majority with heavy spending on welfare, health, education and infrastructure projects.
He says it is essential for the country to expand its oil reserves in order to direct more state spending toward the poor.
Oil output in OPEC’s smallest member has stagnated since 2010 when the government asked oil investors to sign less-profitable service contracts or leave the country. Since then, oil companies have not invested in exploration.
State oil company Petroamazonas will be in charge of extraction in blocks 43 and 31, which are estimated to hold 800 million barrels of crude and projected to yield 225,000 barrels per day eventually. Ecuador currently produces 540,000 bpd.
August 30, 2013. Source: World War 4 Report
Indigenous and environmentalist protesters clashed with police in Ecuador Aug. 27, as a mobilization dubbed a zapateo (foot-stamping) against plans to open the Yasuni Amazon reserve to oil drilling was held in both Quito and Cuenca. Carlos Pérez, leader of the ECUARUNARI indigenous alliance, said police fired rubber bullets on protesters in Quito, leaving 12 hurt—claims denied by the Interior Ministry. At the capital’s Plaza de la Independencia, protesters were confronted by an organized counter-demonstration made up of supporters of the ruling Alianza PAIS. After the march, protesters held a public assembly in the city’s Plaza Bolívar, where they agreed to meet every Thursday outside the Environment Ministry in an ongiong campaign until their demands are met. The movement is demanding aconsulta popular—public discussion and referendum—on the fate of Yasuni. Ecuador’s National Assembly is currently considering President Rafael Correa’s proposal to open oil blocs within the reserve. (El Universo, Guayaquil, Aug. 29; AFP, Aug. 28)
By Chris Lang, 20 August, 2013. Source: REDD-Monitor
BluForest Inc claims to be setting up REDD projects in Ecuador. It plans to generate carbon credits from 105,000 hectares of land in Ecuador. BluForest announced last week that it had signed a letter of intent with Global Fuel Limited for the pre-purchase of carbon credits.
REDD-Monitor wrote about BluForest last week. The company’s background is in oil, gas and mining. It has few staff and no experience in carbon trading or forest conservation. It also has a background in alleged a $10 million pump and dump share scam.
BluForest does not have permission from the government in Ecuador for its REDD projects. It hasn’t hired consultants to guesstimate how many carbon credits the projects might generate. According to BluForest’s website, 90% of the REDD project area is inside the Sangay National Park, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site 30 years ago.
BluForest estimates that the carbon credits pre-sale deal with Global Fuel could bring BluForest US$12 million per year. Continue reading
17 August, 2013. Source: WW4 Report
The Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini region of Yasuni contains more species in a hectare than all the wildlife in North America. Photograph: Alamy
Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa announced Aug. 15 that he is abandoning plans for an ambitious internationally funded conservation program at Yasuni National Park, which called for international donors to compensate his government for keeping oil interests out of the reserve. ”The world has failed us,” Correa said in a televised address. “I have signed the executive decree for the liquidation of the Yasuni-ITT trust fund and with this, ended the initiative.” Correa said the program had received only $13 million, a fraction of the $3.6 billion goal. He said he would immediately seek approval from the country’s Legislative Assembly, where his alliance holds a majority, for opening the Ishpingo Tambocoha Titutini (ITT) bloc within the park to oil companies. Yasuni park is recognized as a UNESCO biosphere reserve.
The announcement was met with rival demonstrations in Quito’s Plaza Grande, as environmentalists and supporters of indigenous rights filled one side of the square to protest the decision, and followers of Correa’s Alianza País filled the other side to support the president’s move. A tense stand-off ensued. Opponents of oil exploitation in the reserve carried banners with the Twitter tag #NoToquenElYasuní (Hands off Yasuni). Continue reading
By Tina Gerhardt, July 29, 2013. Source: Huffington Post
On June 25, 2013, a federal judge approved a subpoena, to be served by Chevron to Microsoft, granting Chevron private Internet data related to 30 email addresses, including those related to environmental nonprofits, activists, journalists and lawyers.
This information forms part of a larger fishing expedition seeking information related to approximately 100 email addresses in an attempt to gather enough information to bring a lawsuit against those who won an $18 billion judgment against Chevron in Ecuador in February 2011 for dumping 18.5 gallons of highly toxic waste into the streams and rivers in the rainforests in the Oriente region of eastern Ecuador. Chevron’s suit claims that “this judgment is the product of fraud.”
“Chevron also seeks,” the memorandum states, “the IP address associated with the creation of each account and the IP address connected with every subsequent login over a nine-year period. The time period covered by the request is 2003 through September 2012.”
In particular, “the subpoena calls for the production of all documents related to (1) the identity of the users of the email addresses, including ‘all names, mailing addresses, phone numbers, billing information, date of account creation, account information and all other identifying information.’”
By Shaun Walker and Heather Saul, July 3, 2013. Source: The Independent
Bolivia has accused Austria of “kidnapping” their president after refusing to allow a plane carrying Evo Morales into their airspace amid suggestions NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was on board.
“We’re talking about the president on an official trip after an official summit being kidnapped,” Bolivia’s ambassador to the United Nations in New York, Sacha Llorenti Soliz, told reporters in Geneva on Wednesday.
“We have no doubt that it was an order from the White House,” ambassador Llorenti said. “By no means should a diplomatic plane with the president be diverted from its route and forced to land in another country.”
Bolivia has also accused European states of an “act of aggression” and “an offence against the whole Latin region” over the affair and has asked for a crisis meeting of South American leaders after officials expressed outrage at Mr Morales’ treatment.
By Carlos Zorrilla, June 13, 2013. Source: Upside Down World
The last time Ecuador “reformed” its mining legislation was in 2000. Back then, the World Bank was going around the world merrily “modernizing” everyone’s mining legislation (in more than 100 countries), to make the world safer and easier for transnational mining corporations to pillage the world’s resources and ship them North. The reforms were put in place and, decades later, many countries are still suffering from the massive natural resource curse that the laws inspired and made happen. The impacts were so negative that many are currently trying to undo some of the changes. But not Ecuador.
In the case of this Andean country, in the 1990s the World Bank lent it $14 million dollars to help it carry out the changes, plus prospect for minerals in all of Western Ecuador, including inside seven protected areas. The upshot was that the changes to the law removed all kinds of “obstacles” that mining companies always complain about, including reducing or doing away with most taxes and eliminating royalties, in addition to abolishing all environmental regulations. The incentives, together with the creation of mineralization maps showing areas of interest, were meant to attract all kinds of mining companies and open the country to mining. And that it did. All of a sudden, the country, which had only small-scale mining experience, was flooded by small and large companies led by no lack of sleazy individuals trying to make a fast buck with their fly-by-night mining companies.
The consequences of the World Bank’s neoliberal policies here and elsewhere, were not surprising: large-scale social conflicts, violence, social unrest. Luckily, in Ecuador communities were able to stop large-scale mines from opening, otherwise the country would also be burdened by enduring environmental problems. As it stands right now, Ecuador is the only Andean Nation without any large-scale metal mines (such as copper and gold). But that is about to change with the reforms to the mining legislation being debated in the National Assembly as I write this.