Human rights activists and environmentalists will love this story.
The Ecuadorean Constitution declares that their lands are “irreducible and intangible,” that the state guarantees their voluntary remove from the rest of the world, and that any extractive activities on lands of the uncontacted tribes is to be considered ethnocide.
Four decades of drilling by foreign companies in the oil-rich province of Sucumbíos left behind little but an 85 percent poverty rate, cancer rates of 31 percent and a 20-year-old class-action lawsuit against Chevron for profligate pollution that still hasn’t been resolved.
Since Correa’s “21st century socialism” government was elected in 2007, the state has spent more than $1 million to promote the Yasuni ITT Initiative: a scheme for foreign governments and corporations to pledge money to spare the ITT from oil extraction. The Initiative hyped the ITT land as “the most biodiverse place on Earth” and home to thousands of endangered species, as well as uncontacted tribes. Here was the audacious offer to the world: If the ITT fund reached $3 billion by this year, half of what the 845 million barrels of crude underground Yasuni ITT is said to be worth, then Ecuador would not drill there.
When the deadline for the initiative came and went this summer, Correa announced that “the world failed us.” In August, he officially asked the National Assembly to approve drilling in Yasuni ITT, and they did.
Although Correa (the Ecuadorian president) may have jumped from “Save the Yasuni and the Taromenane!” to “Drill, baby, drill,” in a matter of weeks, most Ecuadoreans weren’t ready to make that leap.
Ogaz saw the Yasuni ITT initiative as a promise to Ecuadoreans that the country could end its dependency on oil for income, and find an alternate (and sustainable) way to develop. If that promise is broken, he says, Correa’s radical reform is a lie. “The rich are getting richer in this country, now more than ever,” he says. “Why can’t we get the money from them, instead of putting more pressure on the most vulnerable people?”
In at least four states that have nurtured the nation's energy boom, hundreds of complaints have been made about well-water contamination from oil or gas drilling, and pollution was confirmed in a number of them, according to a review that casts doubt on industry suggestions that such problems rarely happen.
We cannot drink oil money ;)