Ecuador To Sell One Third Of Pristine Rainforest To Chinese Oil Companies

Ecuador is in the midst of talks to sell one-third of pure, untouched rainforest to Chinese oil companies despite environmental impact and protests from indigenous people.
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    In a move that could simultaneously ease the debt of Ecuador and deliver a huge blow to rainforest conservation efforts, Ecuador is set to auction off one third of their pristine rainforest, 3 million hectares of their 8.1 million, to Chinese oil companies.

    Ecuador has pursued this deal for several years now, and recently seems to have been finalizing the deal as they publicized the bidding process in the last few weeks on a roadshow in several nations. The process includes Ecuadorean politicians pitching bidding contracts to possible buyers from Chinese oil companies.

    If the Chinese follow through with their deal, it would violate a clause they agreed upon recently in their new investment guidelines. The clause states that China, known for its terrible exploitation of land, “promote harmonious development of local economy, environment and community” when pursuing new enterprises abroad.

    The development is anything but harmonious, with up to seven indigenous groups protesting and condemning the new deal, which they claim they have not approved. According to Axis Logic, a court ruling was decided last year that stated that the government must obtain “free, prior, and informed consent” from indigenous groups for any upcoming projects that involve the environment.

    Narcisa Mashienta, a women’s leader of the native Shuar people, said that,

    “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.”

    Though the loss of ancestral land will be devastating to these peoples, even more devastating will be the impact this deal will have on the environment. This announcement comes just after Peru declared an environmental state of emergency because of oil pollution from their own rainforest, where Pluspetrol has been operating oil fields since 2001, according to Business Insider.

    Devastation in an Amazonian forest from a different Pluspetrol spill.

    Devastation in an Amazonian forest from a different Pluspetrol spill.

    Rainforests are known for their biodiversity and complexity of the existing species and ecosystems, and an exposure to oil activities will certainly damage large aspects of this system. These forests are still so shrouded in mystery because of little exploration that experts speculate there are many species within the rainforest that have yet to be discovered. If this deal goes through, there is a chance that they never will be.

    Adam Zuckerman from Amazon Watch told The Guardian:

    “My understanding is that this is more of a debt issue – it’s because the Ecuadoreans are so dependent on the Chinese to finance their development that they’re willing to compromise in other areas such as social and environmental regulations.”

    Ecuador reportedly owed China $7 billion, which is more than one tenth their national GDP, as of last summer. China began loaning Ecuador billions of dollars in 2009 in exchange for large oil shipments and has since helped to fund two huge hydroelectric infrastructure projects within Ecuador.

    Despite criticism from the native people and the environmental impact, Ecuador may have no choice but to auction off this precious land in order to relieve themselves of their financial troubles.

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    • Martin Habecker

      All of these comments are detracting from the point of the article which is that this needs to stop because protecting the Amazon Basin starts at the head waters in the Andes Mountains. While conservation efforts tend to focus on the basin itself (Brazil), areas with the highest biodiversity are situated on the eastern slopes of the Andes in countries like Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. The Andes, formed by subduction processes, are areas of active volacanism which is the main source of renewed nutrients into the soil. The Rain-shadow effect which gives the rainforest it’s namesake, is caused by the elevation of the Andes which interrupts the Southeasterly Tradewinds and causes the release of precipitation that is accrued and circulated by Hadley cells. This precipitation leaches nutrients released from the volcanic activity high in the Andes by way of run-off which runs from areas of high elevation (Andes) to areas of low elevation (Amazon Basin) into drainage channels, which are the head-waters of every stream that feeds into the Amazon. Here it is quite easy to see that if mining operations pollute and poison the head-waters, it will effectivelly poison the entire Amazon Basin through the same mechanisms. Also, if these channels are interrupted, it is metaphorically the same as cutting off the head from the body. This is why it is paramount, for the protection of the Amazon and ALL of it’s biodiversity, that more conservation efforts are made in those countries (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia) where the head-waters that created the amazing biodiversity that is Amazon River and Basin are preserved.

      • Jason Faulkner

        How much did you contribute to Yasuni ITT?

    • Jason Faulkner is right. Too much people talking about things they don’t even know about and feeding an article with their yellowish comments, which is exactly what the author is looking for. Look around you guys … this site is full of advertising !!! They win with every single click on the page and writing an article, very inclined like this one and designed to get attention, is giving them money … if you want to get objective, scientific, objective information, look for a REAL source of information, not something like this !!!

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    • Jason Faulkner

      Why is the author trying so hard to be misleading? They aren’t selling a single hectare of rainforest. They’re leasing drilling rights in a block that covers a large area, but that isn’t even remotely close to selling the land. The oil companies are allowed to drill a fixed number of wells within that area, but they don’t own any of the land or the forest around it. The entire impact will be less than 300 hectares within an area of over 3 million in a forest of over 8 million.

      And why has the author failed to mention that none of the “groups” protesting have any democratic legitimacy? Correa enjoys the support of over 2/3 of indigenous population in Ecuador and every indigenous community has its own elected representatives, yet the author feels that quoting people who have appointed themselves representatives constitutes a fair story? Anyone can get together with a few friends and call themselves a group. That doesn’t mean they speak for anyone other than themselves.

      It says a lot about a position when you have to abandon all journalistic integrity to get people to believe it. I guess it’s really only about clicks these days anyway.

      • TecumsehUnfaced

        For pity’s sake, what’s the difference? Auctioning leases with the freedom to devastate the land is just bad as an outright purchase of all rights. Please stop being such a shill and viciously denigrating the right of the people to live without molestation by rapacious mineral wealth extraction. You seem to be every much as a vampire as the white European Ashkenazi that have fastened their fangs into Palestine.

        I’m sorry, but the author has demonstrated far more integrity than a shill of the corporate elite like you. The European “Right of Discovery” was fraudulent from its inception, just as all your arguments are.

        If you don’t like my tone, then be kinder in your own tone to others.

        • Jason Faulkner

          Shill of the corporate elite? White European Ashkenazi?

          Are you high or just stupid?

    • Senior Carne

      This should be voted on by the public.

      • Jason Faulkner

        You mean the public that voted in this government by a 2 to 1 margin over the nearest competitor? The government that ran on this platform?

        Anyone can put anything up for a national referendum in Ecuador. All they have to do is collect the signatures of 5% of the electorate and it becomes a national referendum. The reality is the public supports this. Yasunidos tried to collect signatures a few years ago and couldn’t get any support so they forged or duplicated hundreds of thousands of signatures instead. Barney the Dinosaur, Bruce Wayne and other illustrious Ecuadorians signed hundreds of times. Even Yasunidos’ own officers signed multiple times. If the public wanted a vote on this, we would have had it already.