For the last ten days, Ecuador has been declared in National Strike to protest the inflation of oil prices, and other privatisation policies being rolled out. Ecuador has plunged into a deteriorating situation. Tens of thousands indigenous people of Ecuador have been marching over the last ten days. Ecuador is currently struggling with rising levels of inflation, unemployment and poverty, and protesters are accusing conservative President Guillermo Lasso of submitting to pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Two people died in the protests when met by police and military. Indigenous leaders encouraged their people to keep peaceful, with social media notices and notices handed out from many different indigenous groups to everyone to remain peaceful, marching in unity. The Indigenous organization Confeniae announced the loss of a colleague from the Picolino sector, a young man who was killed with a close range direct bullet by an armed policeman, the man was not attacking anyone, there was no need to kill the protestor.
”We regret to inform the repression that occurred in the province of Pastaza saw it, which has resulted in the death of a colleague from the Picolino sector. We denounced the disproportionate action of the public force in a totally unjustified manner and with direct shots from the demonstrators. The hands of the police and the government are stained with the blood of our brother vilely assassinated with a shot at close range. We denounce this repudiation and request the immediate intervention of the human rights organizations. We hold the President of the Republic of Ecuador accountable for this act. ” – Comunicacion Confeniae
The current situation is the population of Pastaza are demanding the people’s rights be restored in article 98 and for peace to be restored. See video at Comunicacion Confeniae
Meanwhile, the Waorani community of Yawepare, in the Dayuma parish, are being out-numbered and intimidated by military acting in the interests of the oil company, occupying the Waorani Amazon rainforest, the Waorani demands renegotiations with that the national government and the oil company occupying their territory, it is their legal right under the Ecuadorian Indigenous Rights act to demand the oil company to cease activities in Block 14 of the Amazon territory.
Why is Ecuador in crisis when Crude Oil Reserves rose by 4.82 percent in 2022?
Ecuador has a history of political leaders who have done little more than help plunder the country of its natural resources, exploited oil bonds and plunged the country into more debt. With crude oil exports being the highest this year compared to the past few years, why are the Ecuadorian people struggling more than ever? Since the pandemic, Ecuador’s crude oil production had suddenly dropped after 2020. However, what doesn’t make sense is the current crisis Ecuador is in the midst of when Crude oil reserves of Ecuador rose by 4.82 % from 456.00 thousand barrels per day in early 2022 to 478.00 thousand barrels per day more recently . Yet this doesn’t reflect in the current economic climate and struggle of the Ecuadorian people,, the revenue from oil production isn’t being invested back into the country’s infrastructure or for much needed subsidies to support the people, its going into the pockets of oil companies, Investment bankers and politicians. Since the 49.20 % slump in 2021, crude oil reserves soared by 94.06 % in 2022. Moreover, there are plans to increase output by twice the amount to exceed 800,000 barrels per day in the next five years. Two years ago, Ecuador produced 206,869 b/d of crude in December 2021. Ecuador Crude Oil: Exports was reported at 361.820 Barrel/Day in Dec 2020. This records a decrease from the previous number of 397.833 Barrel/Day for Dec 2019 .
Which countries have economic and political influence causing the pressures over Ecuador?
Both China and the United States are very involved in influencing politics and controlling natural resources in Ecuador. Especially oil and mining activities in the Amazon. These are the countries pressuring and driving the current crisis too.
China has a very large part in oil extraction and mining in the Ecuadorian Amazon, followed by the US. China has been Ecuador’s largest bilateral creditor for much of the 21st century, since the South American nation was largely cut out of Western sovereign credit markets for several years after its 2008 cancellation of payment on bonds that were found to have been tainted with irregularities.
In 2014, Petro Amazonas, a national oil Company was responsible for one of the
largest terrestrial oil spills since the Texaco-Chevron case, just after drilling was permitted in Yasuni ITT national bio reserve. Over 600,000 barrels of crude oil have contaminated several rivers in the Amazon, rivers that four indigenous tribes depend upon for fishing, bathing and drinking. Some of these communities have not yet fully recovered from the Chevron oil spill twenty years ago. Then crude oil has reached Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, no action was taken by the Ecuadorian environmental ministry, so the impact worsened.
Oil exploitation, is the biggest driver that is destroying the Ecuadorian Amazon basin. Ecuador committed 96,000 barrels per day to Chinese firms, in 2013, and yet Ecuador’s current debt with China is claimed to be 5 billion dollars.
Ecuador has been through crisis after crisis, over the last decades, the 7.8 Earthquake in April 2016 destroyed the country’s infrastructure, then Raphael Correa stole billions and hid out in Belgium, followed by several years of severe poverty from Covid pandemic and now the inflation of oil prices. Over 520,000 barrels per day (bpd) is exported to China, although it is estimated that only about 15,000 bpd actually go directly to China, the rest of that oil is traded onwards to other countries by China. The rest of Ecuador’s Oil goes to the USA. According to the oil scientists, there is barely more than twenty years’ worth of oil left below the soil in Ecuador, and it is not the finest quality either.
The Amazon is one of the most valuable biodiversity hotspots in the world, containing 50 percent of all life forms on this planet. Selling the last of the Ecuadorian Amazon to oil companies could transform Ecuador’s rainforest into the largest operating oil field in the whole
of the Amazon Basin, decimating biodiversity that has taken over 50 million years to evolve. The Amazon Rainforest is home to tens of thousands of plants, 2.5 million insect species, and some 2,000 birds and mammals. To date, at least 40,000 plant species, 2,200 fishes, 1,294 birds, 427 mammals, 428 amphibians, and 378 reptiles have been scientifically classified in the region and hundreds of thousands more are waiting to be discovered.
”With Ecuador looking to renegotiate its debt commitments, both sides may consider biodiversity finance proposals such as debt-for-nature swaps, which aim to see portions of debt cancelled on the condition of funds being allocated for conservation investments. Ecuador boasts one of the world’s richest biodiversity levels but its debt levels leave it tightly constrained in its ability to conserve these resources or develop sustainable uses for them. The Governments are proposing that by exchanging short-term financial commitments for long-term environmental commitments, both Ecuador and China could build the foundation for a more resilient economic relationship moving forward.”- China Dialogue. However, this leads Ecuadorian people in a desperate crisis as its only the wealthy that gain shares in the countries resources, while the Ecuadorian people and the Amazon Rainforest are in the hands of volatile powerful communist orientated politicians and economists with a firm grip on their resources, meanwhile, the people are fighting to survive amidst soaring inflation.
Evolve to Ecology
The Grayzone, Independent journalists, spoke with leaders of Ecuador’s indigenous movements now engaged in street protests against the privatization policies of President Guillermo Lasso, a billionaire banker. The activists addressed their demands and the repression they have witnessed, including arrests and alleged assassination attempts.
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