“Ecuador auctions off Amazon to Chinese oil firms” – Guardian

"Indigenous groups in Ecuador say the planned oil projects would devastate the environment and threaten their traditional way of life." Photograph: Alamy  Source: Guardian
“Indigenous groups in Ecuador say the planned oil projects would devastate the environment and threaten their traditional way of life.” Photograph: Alamy
Source: Guardian

Jonathan Kaiman reports for the Guardian that, “Indigenous groups claim they have not consented to oil projects, as politicians visit Beijing to publicize bidding process.

This is happening at the same time as Peru declares an, “Environmental state of Emergency in its rainforest,” due to the pollution from years of oil field extraction, another article from the Guardian states.

Despite the obvious environmental devastation that the demand for big oil has caused in Peru, the government of Ecuador is bidding farewell to the native ecosystem in the Amazon because industrialized nations need big oil to survive in present form.

Kaiman writes:

Ecuador plans to auction off more than three million hectares of pristine Amazonian rainforest to Chinese oil companies, angering indigenous groups and underlining the global environmental toll of China‘s insatiable thirst for energy.

On Monday morning a group of Ecuadorean politicians pitched bidding contracts to representatives of Chinese oil companies at a Hilton hotel in central Beijing, on the fourth leg of a roadshow to publicise the bidding process. Previous meetings in Ecuador’s capital, Quito, and in Houston and Paris were each confronted with protests by indigenous groups.

Attending the roadshow were black-suited representatives from oil companies including China Petrochemical and China National Offshore Oil. “Ecuador is willing to establish a relationship of mutual benefit – a win-win relationship,” said Ecuador’s ambassador to China in opening remarks.

According to the California-based NGO Amazon Watch, seven indigenous groups who inhabit the land claim that they have not consented to oil projects, which would devastate the area’s environment and threaten their traditional way of life.

So, why should everyone care about the indigenous ways of a life-sustaining life?  The fossil-fuel based economies need big oil, but at the expense of what or whom?  The report continues:

In an interview, Ecuador’s secretary of hydrocarbons, Andrés Donoso Fabara, accused indigenous leaders of misrepresenting their communities to achieve political goals. “These guys with a political agenda, they are not thinking about development or about fighting against poverty,” he said.

Fabara said the government had decided not to open certain blocks of land to bidding because it lacked support from local communities. “We are entitled by law, if we wanted, to go in by force and do some activities even if they are against them,” he said. “But that’s not our policy.”

Amazon Watch said the deal would violate China’s own new investment guidelines, issued jointly by the ministries of commerce and environmental protection last month. The third clause of the guidelines says Chinese enterprises should “promote harmonious development of local economy, environment and community” while operating abroad.

Fabara said he was not aware of the guidelines. “We’re looking for global investors, not just investors from China,” he said. “But of course Chinese companies are really aggressive. In a bidding process, they might present the winning bids.”

Critics say national debt may be a large part of the Ecuadorean government’s calculations. Ecuador owed China more than £4.6bn ($7bn) as of last summer, more than a tenth of its GDP. China began loaning billions of dollars to Ecuador in 2009 in exchange for oil shipments. More recently China helped fund two of its biggest hydroelectric infrastructure projects. Ecuador may soon build a $12.5bn oil refinery with Chinese financing.

The report from the Amazon’s indigenous tribes certainly don’t see the auctioning off of their homelands to big oil as a “harmonious development”.  Kaiman concludes with a quote from one of the leaders:

“What the government’s been saying as they have been offering up our territory is not true; they have not consulted us, and we’re here to tell the big investors that they don’t have our permission to exploit our land,” Narcisa Mashienta, a women’s leader of Ecuador’s Shuar people.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s