After a state of emergency was declared in Ecuador, with two weeks of intense demonstrations in Quito, Ecuador’s capital, Ecuadorian protestors have released ten police and thirty journalists, who were reportedly taken hostage by activist groups, in the midst of violent outbreaks during demonstrations against IMF austerity pressures on the Ecuadorian government, namely the reason why oil subsidies were being withdrawn,
Before being liberated later that evening, some of the police officers were made to carry the coffin of a protestor, named Inocencio Tucumbí, whose coffin was taken to the city centre, Inocencio died after being hit by a tear gas canister fired by the police at a protest last Wednesday.
Three other protestors have lost their lives during the protests and over 650 protestors have been arrested.
President Moreno had to move the government out of Quito to Guayaquil, Lenín Moreno has agreed to reassess the subsidies, but not necessarily repeal them.
This is not just about subsidies and the IMF, it is a reaction to the growing awareness by the people of Ecuador, that their country has been bought out by politicians and corporations, heavily exploited. As a result Ecuador now carries heavy debt.
Indigenous people are tired of the exploits of oil companies continuing to ignore the laws and rights of indigenous people. For over a century, oil and mining companies continue to ignoring the rights of indigenous people, accordingto Ecuadorian law, they are to seek prior consultation to any indigenous community that their activities may affect. They need to seek prior notice before going into an area of indigenous territory in the Amazon and exploiting the area for oil or mining. However, most oil and mining companies continue to ignore that indigenous communities exist, and that the ancestral lands belong to in the Amazon people, not for the Ecuadorian governments to allow corporations to enter, for oil, for gold, uranium and so on, this has continued to increase intensively, without international intervention or help, similarly the same is happening in Peru and Brazil where the middle of the rain forests have seen devastating gold mining expansion over thousands of hectares of Amazon rainforest have been turned to deserts this year .
In Ecuador, indigenous communties are strong and resistence affects the country immediately. Unfortunately, for Moreno, he took on Ecuador after the prior president Rafael Correa left a messy legacy behind. Correa squeezed all the money he could steal, out of the Ecuadorian economy.
Rafael Correa sold Ecuador out completely just before April 2017 Elections, while he was in government, he did a lot of back handed deals, one such deal was while he was running the Yasuni campaign to keep the oil in the ground, behind closed doors, he secretly made oil deals with Chinese oil companies while pretending to the public he wanted to conserve Yasuni National Park. Promptly after Moreno was elected, Rafael Correa immediately left for Brussels.
Two years before PetroAmazonia oil bonds were sold in the New York Stock Market, Correa’s government denounced the 10 per cent in annual interest the country paid on its bonds as “usury in 2015.” So when the 51-year-old former economics professor was only willing to pay 10.5 per cent in a sale of notes back then, it raised speculation the Opec nation may be running short of cash after oil prices collapsed. Before the March 19 sale 2015, Correa told potential buyers it wanted to pay less than 8 per cent to borrow at least US$1 billion for as long as seven years. Instead, the Andean nation got just US$750 million for five years at yields that were more than two percentage points higher. The sale “indicates that they are running into trouble,” said Sarah Glendon, an economist at Gramercy Funds Management.
Moreno and the people of Ecuador are paying this price, and Moreno is under a lot of pressure to try and find a solution to the mess. However, the ramifications are worse for the indigenous people and so as it is nearing 2020, when the debts of U.S.$315,339,980, has to be paid back at least
4.625% of notes are due by 2020, the pressure on Ecuadorian people and the government is worse than ever, what will Moreno do to compromise for the people of Ecuador? Times have already been hard on the Ecuadorian economy after Ecuador had to spend a lot of money rebuilding important infrastructure recovering from the 7.8 Earthquake in 2016.
Many indigenous people over the last three years have been greatly pressured and exploited as oil and mining activities expand an develop exponentially in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Since this means more destruction of the Amazon, to be exploited by oil companies such as Petro Amazonas and other oil companies for exploitation and drilling, as this debt needs to be paid back by next year, 2020 and these notes were borrowed on Petro Amazonas assets, one of the driving destroyers of the Ecuadorian Amazon.
**Update** A resolution has been reached following the Peace Talks Sunday Night. Moreno will withdraw submission to the IMF, people keep their subsidies and finances in tax and public spending will be affected instead.
How could the concept of Natural Capital help Ecuador reclaim economic autonomy?
Ecuador has more than half the world’s biodiversity found in the Amazon rainforest, in terms of Natural Capital, there is a great deal of value in the Amazon that could wipe out all of Ecuador’s world debt.
Today, biodiversity rich areas of the world are a critically endangered and a limited natural resource. We are living in the Sixth greatest mass extinction, because of our addiction to oil and wealth in terms of short term gain, this drastically affects how we manage biodiversity. It is an apocalypse happening in slow motion which affects all of the earth’s biodiversity which took 3.8 billion years of evolution to form. This extinction differs from previous extinctions, in that it is caused by humans, not by natural causes, as we are the cause, we can also slow it down or prevent it, if we make big changes. While governments are aware of this and we continue to accelerate it, each year, and this affects every single species and ecosystem on the planet, nothing is being done to protect biodiversity, instead twenty years on from my environmental science degree, it is disheartening to see environmental laws have become greately weakened as politicians are the stakeholders of lobbying corporations and are legally bribed to rewrite laws for backhanded payments. According to recent scientific data, animals and plants are disappearing at a rate of between 75 and 150 species per day. There may be no rain forest left in twenty years from now, nor fish in the ocean in ten years time and over half the world will have a water crisis, fifteen years from now. Bees are our most important crop pollinators and are fast disappearing and the rate of deforestation and ocean pollution is destroying these keystone ecosystems, which are drastically affected by man’s own actions. As most people are ecologically illiterate, we negate the goods and services and value these natural resources and the wealth they generate or the species that also contribute to the work of ecological goods and services.
Look at Africa, the natural capital if given monetary value would make it the richest country in the world in terms of natural resources. Western society must live more within our ecologically realistic limitations, consume less and live more sustainably. We agree that predatory capitalism equals exploitation, and thrives from growing centralized power structures. This is part of its subjective characteristics and results in a few countries having more power, wealth and opportunities than the rest of the world, which is the cancer of this growing disparity between the first world nations and ”third world nations”, which were originally ancient first world superpowers in the story of ancient history.
Natural Capital is a concept that was explored nearly 20 years ago now, pilot projects have been quietly funded by the United Nations to see how we can value nature and biodiversity for policy makers. The World Resource Institute (WRI) estimates the value of ecosystem services to be US $33 trillion a year, nearly twice the value of the global gross national product (GNP) of US $18 trillion. The US is also in debt by 17 trillion dollars, if the US switched to an economy based on natural capital, the financial value tied up in its natural capital would take care of this debt. In the same way that a banknote is a promissory note against the gold or silver that has been deposited in the bank, ecological economists are seeing how we can start to put the same value onto ecosystems and the role of species in ecosystem production; another example would be the 80 percent of oxygen generated by algae and microbial activity in the oceans. Hypothetically, the value of the work done in existing ecosystems could regenerate local economies and increase the wealth and monetary value of nature globally, simply by ensuring its conservation and existence by using initiatives similar to the TEEB Economic of Ecosystems and Biodiversity model if we took it to a community level to decentralize governmental powers and management of our natural resources.
Nature’s ecological banking system could be a way to revolutionise our world and local economies and transfer wealth from an oil-based economy to an ecology-based economy, this wealth would provide poor countries with enough ecological economy that global debt would become a thing of the past. This starts on a local level, worldwide, which would regenerate and allow local communities to have better control over their own natural resources, protecting and managing them from over-exploitation of previously decentralised management of resources, which could be prevented, if corporate social responsibility pays a tax to the natural capital destroyed and when more is taken out of the ecosystems and Natural Capital, than is put into them, this crucially needs to be taken into account in order to gain more balance.
In terms of flipping this over to give people power instead of governments, we could make local land trusts run by the local communities which protect thousands of hectares of rain forest for the future preservation of biodiversity and translate the value to cryptocurrency rather than fiat, which is centralized and controlled by governments, whereas cryptocurrency is not. Ecuador, Peru, Brazil,Bolivia, Venezuela and Colombia would be infinitely more wealthy because these countries are where the Amazon basin covers. If we put a value on just one hectare of the Amazon for the biodiversity it holds, or for the oxygen and clean water it produces, or for
Here we provide further steps towards sustainability and increasing power to local communities and protect nature from centralized predatory capitalism exploits:
1. Decentralisation of power in cities and governments, to smaller towns and villages, for local communities to have more say in governance of local resources instead of foreign governments.
2. Improve infrastructures in rural areas for solar and wind technology for self sustainable towns and greener cities, strengthening local infrastructures for alternative fuel systems to make the transition from oil easier, such as make hydrogen fuel cell refuelling stations, along with electric cars more available in every town and city and alternative energy resources for off the grid power generators.
3. Ideally, (because this won’t happen in real world politics), Western governments that currently have central power would return the rights for developing countries the access to manage their own land and natural resources which would remedy starvation, put a stop to corporate land grabs and create a more sustainably balanced structure that is not centralised or controlled by corporations and politicians of the Western World.
4. This is a hard one since those who have the power prefer to keep countries in debt, especially to exploit their resources. -Abolish “third world debt” based on unrealistic inflation agendas for the world powers to control natural resources in ‘poorer’ foreign countries that are actually ‘richer’ in rare minerals and natural resources than most Western countries, we will see how in further paragraphs the Natural Economy in terms of goods and services and biodiversity, can turn the poorest nations into the richest over night and would be used to wipe world debt.
5. Environmental laws need to make corporate exploitations of foreign natural resources a crime, more stringent environmental laws are necessary and no more erosion of these laws by politicians who are corporate pimps bribed to rewrite laws for corporate agendas. Western corporations need to abolish privatisation of water, and land resources in “third world countries”.
6. Return land rights to rural community agriculturalists in developing countries, and locally supporting sustainable agriculture. With localised sustainable farming, there would be an equal distribution of food and grain and where there is poor soil quality implementation of soil restoration projects .
The current global conflicts, we see emerging in both the ecological and economic crisis, is a sign that we need to re-evaluate the global economy that has been built on short-term gain and erroneous decisions of greedy politicians and their corporate partners, with no acknowledgement or regard for nature’s capital, invisible goods, services and production that everyone takes for granted. This completely disregards nature’s capital value. Our view of nature is to see ourselves as separate and above it, a western view that is so engrained in our perception of the world, we don’t think twice about our wasteful consumerist culture. We could start exploring new ways of seeing nature as a valuable investment we need to protect, to preserve biodiversity and the natural balance of ecosystems for the future of humanity.
By Carlita Shaw