Crisis in Ecuador
Chinese oil consortium Andes Patroleum has been given a go ahead to explore and exploit lands in the Ecuadorian Amazon, including territory of the Sapara people. Amazonian leaders have denounced this development, as Andes Patroleum will cause genocide against the Sapara Nation and uncontacted indigenous peoples if it drills in their ancestral territory in the Ecuadorian rainforest.
Join us at the Chinese Consulate for a solidarity and visibility action, and delivery of a letter demanding Andes Petroleum cancel the contract to explore and drill oil in Sapara territory immediately. This action will coincide with Sapara leader Gloria Ushigua Santi’s visit to the bay area.
June 2016 NOTE: Indigenous human rights defender Ms Gloria Ushigua has been a target of increasing levels of harassment continuing through 2017, to include reports of recent harassment within the past month of August 2017. PLEASE sign the letter of support at the...
May 1, 2017 (New York) – After marching with Leonardo DiCaprio in the Peoples’ Climate March on Saturday in Washington DC, Amazonian leaders headed to the United Nations today to denounce that the Chinese oil company Andes Petroleum will cause genocide against the Sapara Nation and uncontacted indigenous peoples if it drills in their ancestral territory in the Ecuadorian rainforest.
“Andes Petroleum is posed to commit genocide against the Sapara People and the uncontacted peoples who are our neighbors.” declared Manari Ushigua, President of the Sapara Nation. “Andes Petroleum must cancel the contract immediately and Ecuador must desist from any other form of resources extraction because it threatens our survival.”
Acción Ecológica, one of Latin America’s most well-known environmental groups, had led the fight against Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa’s plans to expand the mining industry. While the group’s legal status remains up in the air, its more than 20 years of work has had a palpable influence on the country’s socio-environmental movement. The group was founded in 1986, when two Ecuadoran university groups joined forces: one made up of three women majoring in communications, and the other formed by several biologists making a documentary about ecological problems. The organization began by mounting campaigns against the problems associated with oil drilling and, in the 1990s, against the destruction of the manglares (coastal forests). By 1993, their educational and lobbying efforts had grown to include legal action against oil companies.
On 18th December, Ecuador’s most prestigious environmental NGO, Acción Ecológica, called for a Peace & Truth Commission to explore the attacks on indigenous and environmental rights. Two days later, the Government announced its intention to close the NGO, which has been operating in Ecuador for 30 years and is largely responsible for the country’s modern environmental movement. This is not the first time that the Government has closed an organisation for disagreeing with its extractivist policies. In 2013, Fundación Pachamama was closed for opposing the auction of 2.6 million hectares of virgin jungle to oil companies.
The Indigenous Environmental Network, its members and affiliates, strenuously protest Ecuador’s Vice Minister of Internal Security’s request that the Minister of Environment close or annul the highly respected Acción Ecologica and terminate its right to operate legally in Ecuador. Ironically, or cynically, the Vice Minister’s actions apparently were prompted precisely because Acción Ecológica was complying with its charter to defend the environment, the rights of Mother Earth and the human and indigenous rights of Indigenous Peoples of Ecuador.
Ecuador became an even more difficult place to be a defender of indigenous rights and the environment. You would think a country with constitutionally-enshrined protections for Mother Nature would support and encourage indigenous and environmental rights defenders, but sadly that is not the case, and it has implications for the global climate change movement.
We were born here in this immense jungle of the Cordillera del Cóndor and on the banks of the Zamora and Santiago rivers. We did not know barbed wire or private property. The State declared that these were uncultivated lands and organized the colonization of our territory with the same conviction and self-legitimacy of any colonizer. When the settlers came to this land we received them well, because we knew that these were poor and hardworking people looking for an opportunity in their lives. From one day to another, large tracts of land no longer belonged to us because they had been sold to people we had never even met.
Ecuador’s Environment Ministry just announced that it has rejected the Interior Ministry’s request to shut down Acción Ecológica.
We want to publicly acknowledge the thousands of letters, embraces and messages that we have received from every corner of the world. We have, indeed, received an answer that for many, was unexpected: the Ecuadorean government has desisted in its intent to close Acción Ecoloógica.
We have known (between you and us) how to defend our right to solidarity, to participation, and to denounce the aggressions against nature. Even though it might seem strange to celebrate this, we do, because the risk of losing those rights approached, and it was terrifying.
Our defense of nature might be uncomfortable for groups of power, and to the transnational companies, and perhaps especially to the Chinese, as their companies are present in all of our national territory with their extractive projects and construccion of megainfraestructure But we recognize that our organization is also profoundly loved and respected by communities and individuales with whom we have worked. And put in the balanece, their lack of comfort on the one hand, and the love and respect on the other, the latter weighs more.
We live in a country marked by socio-environmental conflicts, oil exploitation in areas such as the Yasuní, mining in the Cordillera del Cóndor, and agrofuels in our dry and tropical forests. With such assault to territories, custodians of nature have called on us to participate, to be in solidarity, and to denounce such aggressions. We will continue to do so, with our intellectual and political support, with our presence in the streets, and through the construction of shared work – in order to confront the different causes and forms of aggressions against nature.
In accordance with our vision and mission, we commit to continue working so that the intelligence respects the Earth, and so that the Earth can sustain humanity.
We thank all of you for being there, and for giving life to and amplifying our voice, and for touching us with your loving drumbeats of peace, with justice and dignity.