Photograph: Pete Oxford/Corbis via The Guardian
The killing of José Isidro Tendetza Antún highlights the risks facing environmental activists in Ecuador. Earlier this week, a group of campaigners travelling in a “climate caravan” were stopped six times by police on their way to Lima and eventually had their bus confiscated. The activists said they were held back because president Correa wants to avoid potentially embarrassing protests at the climate conference over his plan to drill for oil in Yasuni, an Amazon reserve and one of the most biodiverse places on earth.
Once lauded for being the first nation to draw up a “green constitution,” enshrining the rights of nature, Ecuador’s environmental reputation has nosedived in recent years as Correa has put more emphasis on exploitation of oil, gas and minerals, partly to pay off debts owed to China.
– Patrick Bond in Durban, South Africa
Ecuador indigenous leader found dead days before planned Lima protest
By Jonathan Watts and Dan Collyns, The Guardian. 6 December 2014
The body of an indigenous leader who was opposed to a major mining project in Ecuador has been found bound and buried, days before he planned to take his campaign to climate talks in Lima.
The killing highlights the violence and harassment facing environmental activists in Ecuador, following the confiscation earlier this week of a bus carrying climate campaigners who planned to denounce president Rafael Correa at the United Nations conference.
May 6, 2014. Source: BBC
Huaorani natives and Yasunidos ecologist group activists march in Quito on April 12, 2014.
Activists said they had gathered enough signatures to force a vote on further oil drilling in the Amazon. Photo: AFP
Ecuador has rejected a petition for a referendum on whether the Yasuni National Park in the Amazon should be opened to further oil exploration.
The National Electoral Council said not enough signatures were collected to force a referendum.
Activists from the group Yasunidos, who had gathered the signatures, accused the council of “fraud”.
They oppose more oil drilling in the park, saying it would damage one of the world’s richest areas of biodiversity.
The electoral authorities validated 359,781 of the 850,000 signatures collected, well under the 583,323 needed by Ecuadorian law. Continue reading
Note: Comrades with Oilwatch Ecuador are asking international allies to support the Yasuni anti-extraction struggle by emailing Ecuador’s National Electoral Council and demanding they not interfere with the national referendum.
Email (in English and Spanish if possible): email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com ; also CCinfo@yasunidos.org.
-The GJEP Team
By John Vidal, April 30, 2014. Source: The Guardian
An Amazon Indian woman holds a poster that reads in Spanish: ‘Down with oil. Up with life’ during a protest against the extraction of oil from the Yasuni national park. Photograph: Dolores Ochoa/AP
Indigenous people, environment groups and others hoping to force a national referendum on whether one of the world’s most biodiverse regions should be exploited by oil companies fear that the Ecuadorean government is manipulating the results of a petition in order to support the president.
Ecuador‘s proposal to leave an 846m barrels of oil in the ground under the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) area of the Yasuni national park in the Amazonian rainforest and ask the world to compensate it with half its monetary value was hailed as a revolutionary new conservation idea when it was agreed by President Rafael Correa in 2007.
But when only around $300m had been formally pledged by August 2013, Correa reversed his decision, saying the estimated $7bn that the country could eventually earn from the oil was needed to alleviate poverty.
However, Correa accepted that under Ecuador’s constitution, a referendum would be triggered if 5% of the country, or 584,000 people, signed a petition within nine months. To the surprise of the authorities, a loose alliance of civil society groups calling themselves the YASunidos, claimed two weeks ago to have secured more than enough signatures. Continue reading
By Mica Rosenberg, March 7, 2014. Source: Reuters
A waste pit filled with crude oil left by Texaco drilling operations years earlier lies in a jungle clearing near the Amazonian town of Sacha, Ecuador, October 21, 2003, on the day of the start of a landmark trial where Ecuadoran Indians are seeking to force ChevronTexaco to clean up the environmental contamination left behind from Texaco’s operations. Photo: REUTERS/LOU DEMATTEIS
Ecuadorean villagers who are trying to get billions of dollars from Chevron Corp for pollution in the Amazon jungle are ready to refocus their fight on pending suits in other countries after a setback in the United States.
A scathing judgment issued by a U.S. judge this week against their lawyer will cast a long shadow over cases filed in Canada, Brazil and Argentina, where the plaintiffs are seeking Chevron assets as payment because the oil giant no longer has a presence in Ecuador.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan handed down a 500-page decision that found American lawyer Stephen Donziger used “corrupt means” to help villagers from the Lago Agrio region win the historic $18 billion judgment against Chevron in Ecuador in 2011. The damage award was later revised down to $9.5 billion. While Kaplan’s decision bars Donziger and the villagers from enforcing the Ecuadorean ruling in the United States, it is not binding in pending cases elsewhere.
Of the three cases, the Canadian one seems to have progressed the farthest, with an appeals court there ruling in December that the province of Ontario was a proper jurisdiction for the plaintiffs to press the company to pay up. Chevron has asked for an appeal of that ruling to be heard by Canada’s Supreme Court. Continue reading
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.