In November of 2012, Ecuador opened the bidding process for oil development in the Pastaza and Morona Santiago provinces located in the southeastern region of the Amazon. The area up for grabs is almost entirely pristine, covers between eight and ten million acres, and is home to seven indigenous nationalities, all of which face risk of devastation if oil development is permitted in the region.
Recently, The Pachamama Alliance just learned of a development that may indicate a move in the desired direction: On April 22nd, Ecuador’s government announced it is extending the deadline for investors and oil executives to submit bids on the eight to ten million acres, which has been divided up into 16 blocks.
While the government is claiming the purpose of the extension is to allow interested parties more time to study the region’s geology and complete legal paperwork, there is a chance it reflects a reluctance
on the part of oil companies to submit bids at all due to the international protests.
It wouldn’t be an unprecedented situation. Prior administrations have tried to auction the area off before, but garnered little interest from investors and oil companies due to resistance.
Despite Strong Protest, Ecuador Acts Deaf
While Ecuador’s government acts deaf to international protest, it remains to be seen if would-be investors and oil companies are better listeners and are indeed delaying bidding, as they have in the past, due to the strong show of international opposition.
On April 17th, Ecuador’s government officials wrapped up their international oil round promotion efforts. Promotion efforts began in Quito, then moved on to Houston, Paris, Beijing, and ended in Calgary. Along the way, the roadshow was met with protest demonstrations by indigenous and non-indigenous alike.
In a press release, Amazon Watch said protesters gathered also in Canada and delivered a declaration of opposition from five of Ecuador’s indigenous nationalities whose rainforest communities would be affected by the concessions.
Perturbing to many is that fact that Ecuador’s recently re-elected President, Rafael Correa, once seemed to champion environmental and indigenous rights, even telling the indigenous nations that he “would never fail them.” Now, he seems more interested in oil exploitation and the Ecuadorian government, in general, has seemed determined to ignore both international indigenous human rights law, and international sentiment, as it waits for bids to come in.
The Pachamama Alliance has been one of those voices of opposition to oil development in the Amazon, making the XI Oil Round our campaign focus this last winter. Follow the timeline of our past news coverage on this issue below, and stay tuned as we continue our efforts.
According to Amazon Watch, one million people have signed a petition calling on Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa to cancel the oil round.
Images by planetsave.com