Ecuador oil auction stopped

Cheering indigenous people of Ecuador Picture: Joke Baert/Fundación Pachamama

Aug 1, 2013

Local protests and international forms of pressure help indigenous peoples. It seems that not enough oil companies submitted bids on 3 million hectar of Ecuador's last remaining area of virgin rainforest. The deadline was extended yet again by the Ecuadorian government.

Last week, indigenous leaders released a declaration in which they promised to exercise their constitutional right to "firmly resist any oil company’s attempt to enter their territory." They reject once more their rejection to the oil auction and they denounce the fact that there were no properly prior consent process.

The indigenous communities of the Ecuadorian Amazon are not alone in this resistance process. Rainforest Rescue and other environmental organisations have been helping and supporting local communities which have been struggling. They are helping their voices to be heard on an international level through an online petition in which they are asking the government to cancel all plans to expand oil drilling in the Amazon (https://www.rainforest-rescue.org/mailalert/896/no-oil-drilling-in-the-amazon-rainforest).

 Companies are showing some caution towards the last rainforest remanents,  home to seven indigenous nationalities. The local newspaper El Comercio attributes the delay to "high levels of risk in the investments...and absence of agreements with the indigenous communities." Also, the Wall Street Journal wrote that “indigenous communities and environmental groups have asked private and public companies not to participate in the bidding, arguing it violates the rights of at least seven indigenous nationalities by imposing oil projects in their ancestral territories.” ( http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20130716-711777.html)

For now, the rainforest has been rescued. This is a moment to celebrate this huge victory. However, we need to keep up fighting in order to stop the auction process for sure. The Ecuadorian government must respect indigenous rights and the rights of nature by not drilling in the Amazon.

Rainforest Rescue is also asking the Ecuadorian government to protect isolated indigenous peoples' rights through a new online petition (see below).