New Oil Policy Threatens Amazonian Peoples

The decisions President Rafael Correa takes with regard to oil fields located on indigenous territories demonstrate more and more the Ecuadorian government’s unwillingness to respect the constitutional guidelines that protect the rights of communities and of nature.

Correa’s decisions have even created a bitter debate within the government. On one side are officials from the ministries of Justice and the Environment that since 2008 were working on mechanisms to fulfill the precautionary measures set forth by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, or IACHR, for the protection of the Tagaeri and Taromenane communities, as well as the Kichwa community of Sarayaku. On the other hand are officials from the President’s office and the Ministry of Non-renewable Resources, who revealed at the end of June new plans for oil contracts, derailing the work done by the ministries of Justice and the Environment.

The precautionary measures in favor of the Tagaeri and Taromenane, issued in 2006, are one of many the IACHR issued to protect the lives and lands of the various indigenous Ecuadoran communities, and which are contrary to government’s extractive policy.

Moreover, new oil drilling policies contradict President Correa’s previous actions, in which he defined a government policy of protection for uncontacted or voluntarily isolated peoples by creating in 2008 the Environmental and Social Remediation Plan and the Precautionary Measures Plan. These plans sought to implement the best alternative to fulfill the agreement between the government and the IAHCR, especially with respect to the lands where there was evidence of the existence of these communities, encouraging limitations on the exploitation of oil and timber.

Campo Armadillo

The government decided to call for bids on June 19 for the so-called “Campo Armadillo,” in the Amazonian province of Orellana. It is categorized as a “marginal field,” which means that its petroleum production is not significant and, although it would help finance the national budget, will not yield a high income.

Nevertheless, it does have a strategic value: its proximity to the Yasuní National Park, where the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini, or ITT field is located. This is the largest oil reserve in the country and has been the subject of an international campaign that seeks compensation for not exploiting the oil, and to preserve the high level of biodiversity of this area, which is declared a protected zone.

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~ by FSVSF Admin on 16 September, 2011.

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