Coca to Iquitos

The struggle of the Achuar in Peru

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Dan Collyns for BBC News writes about the struggle of the Achuar in Peru that their “story is an emblematic case of resistance for indigenous Amazonians and is unprecedented in Peru“. The article provides a little bit of information, but it is not contexualised very well. There is a similar struggle fought by the Cofan in Ecuador which also only gets minimal time and attention in the mainstream media – and also generally only reported on in isolation. Between the territories of the Cofan and the Achuar lies the Yasuni National park, about which much has been written in this blog. While we keep compiling more comprehensive information and try to tie these obviously mutually relevant scenarios together, we seem to be waiting in vain for editors of the environmental sections of what is left of a critical voices in the corporately led world of media to bring stories that connect these struggles with the “leave the oil in the soil” proposal and the general discourse of climate change.

What does a Christian of the Left do when the people protest?

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The answer is easy: DECLARES A STATE OF EMERGENCY, SENDS IN THE ARMY, THROWS PEOPLE IN PRISON!

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa removed the head of the state-owned oil company, saying the government needed to re-establish order at PetroEcuador after protests shut $3 million of daily production in the country. PetroEcuador President Carlos Pareja was fired today and replaced by Fernando Zurita, a Navy admiral, the government said in a statement. Oil produces about a quarter of state revenue…. Correa declared a state of emergency for the company, saying it was so badly run he was left with no option other than bringing in the Navy. An emergency order may be applied to Orellana province, Ecuador’s main oil-producing area, if the protests over jobs and environmental concerns don’t end, he said….“It is necessary to urgently intervene in the whole of the PetroEcuador system to safeguard national interests,” Correa said today in the statement. Correa named Pareja to the post when he took power in January…. Protesters demanding jobs, better roads and environmental cleanup forced the company to shut 47 oil wells at the Auca and Cononaco fields this week, trimming 20 percent of production at PetroEcuador’s biggest unit. Ecuador is South America’s fifth- largest oil producer, with average daily output of 500,000 barrels….“A lot of money is being lost daily” because of the protests, said Zurita, speaking at the presidential palace in Quito. He said his first task will be to establish order in Orellana and arrest protesters, PetroEcuador employees or anyone else who hampered oil production.”

Reuters managed to report on Correa without mentioning that he was a “leftist” – perhaps in shock and awe, after all this is a proper job that only few right-wingers can match:

“Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa on Thursday declared an Amazonian province under a state of emergency to quell a protest that has slashed the state’s oil output by 20 percent, said a presidential spokeswoman….He also removed Interior Minister Gustavo Larrea, a close adviser, for not stamping out the protest of villagers in the oil-rich province of Orellana, the spokeswoman said. They are demanding more funding for infrastructure projects….The state of emergency bans public gatherings and marches and sets curfews.”

It was still in the early days of Correa’s presidency – back in April – that more powers were invested in the army and the police for these purposes – he obviously knew what the increased development with the Chinese partners in the Amazon would mean: environmental protest against the exploitation and labour protest against not getting any jobs as part of new developments (the jobs mostly go to crews from the outside). It was that same week that Correa first spoke of leaving the oil in the soil……. What oil is to be left in what soil?? one thinks as part of the Ecuadorian Amazon sinks into a state of emergency and the control over the oil is left in the hands of the army..

Esperanza Martinez on Yasuni and the ITT proposal.

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This article by CarbonWeb.org deserves to be reproduced in full:

Yasuni – Our Future in Their Hands?

Ecuador proposes to claim compensation in exchange for leaving crude oil in the ground. Esperanza Martinez examines what this means for resource sovereignty.

Oil, for countries that possess it, is often centre stage when it comes to issues of sovereignty. Invasions have been launched to access it and military and political interventions pushed through to control it, leaving the door wide open for corruption.

Read the rest of this entry »

Invitation to Expedition in the Napo-Ucayali Corridor: June/July 2008

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It is still early days of planning, but a small group of people are planning to travel, for the second time, down the Napo river – doing workshops relevant for indigenous peoples’ struggles, such as shamanic civil rights, and healing sessions in communities along the 1000km long and very exciting route from the beginning of the River Napo in Tena, Ecuador to Iquitos (where it meets the Amazon and the Ucayali rivers). The journey goes through one of the most biodiverse regions in the world – right past the Yasuni National Park, before crossing the border into Peru. After visiting The 4th International Amazonian Shamanism Conference: Magic, Myths and Miracles, which will be held in Iquitos, Peru – July 19th – 26th, 2008, we might continue to Pucallpa….

Sunrise on the River Napo

Contemporary developments in the global economy are very significant for the Amazon rain forest. While this might be said to be true for anywhere at any point in time there are nevertheless good reasons for paying special attention to what maybe the last battle for the survival of the largest rain forest in the world, the loss of which it should need no further justification to lament – and that is the basis upon which this invitation is written….

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Correa’s sunshine story: ITT

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Like the World Bank, the IOM et al. have their sunshine stories (white-, green- you name it wash), so does the neo-socialist revolution in Ecuador:

The innovative offer by the government of Ecuador to refrain from exploiting its largest oil reserve, in exchange for international compensation for nature conservation, is attracting increasing support”, according to an August 23 IPS article. The initiative relates to the untapped Ishpingo-Tiputini-Tambococha (ITT) oil reserve, which is located in Yasuni National Park in the Amazon. According IPS, the park is one of the world’s most biodiverse regions. It was created in 1979 and covers 982,000 hectares”.

But behind this glamorous project – instigated by a radical environmental group – lures the reality of the wider project of Ecuadorian reform: more oil, more refineries, more roads, less forest and the crazy destruction of the Napo River that the construction of the Manta-Manaus corridor threatens. There is already a road straight into Yasuni – for the exclusive use of petroleras (and presumably the military). Yasuni might be “conserved” – but it will be circumscribed by concrete and asphalt, tending towards an indigenous zoo in the outskirts of town.

Who builds the Manta-Manaus corridor, and why?

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In an article about the falling empire(s) and the rise of (sub-)empires, like the one projected under the banner of “Latin American integration“, Clifton Ross touches upon the subject of the Manta-Manaus corridor:

Tomás Peribonio, ex-Minister of Foreign Trade under President Alfred Palacio, is now working as a contractor for the current Correa government designing the Manaos-Manta multi-modal corridor. He’s a handsome, friendly fellow who has also granted me a spur of the moment interview when I showed up at his penthouse office in the Ministry of Public Works building. He offers to do the interview in his excellent English, but quickly slips into Spanish as he emphasizes that “the most important thing is regional unity.” The construction of this multi-modal corridor, he describes as a “mega-project” that would be constructed “over the course of years and perhaps even decades.” The aim, he says, is to unite “Pacific Asia, which, from my point of view, is the area of major world commerce, managing about fifty percent of world trade” with the Atlantic, specifically Brazil, which is increasing its cultivation of soy and other grains with an eye on exports.”

This new empire – regularly criticized here – of plastic consumption will spell the end of the Amazon rain forest – and a wide range of indigenous cultures….. Read the rest of this entry »

Correan corridor contradictions: speaking with two tongues.

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See the entry below for further information about the Manta-Manaus corridor – which is not exactly the kind of project that one would consider commensurable with the “values” of the environment expressed in Correa’s favourite pet environmental project:

A key part of this initiative is to avoid oil extraction activities in Yasuni National Park, home to at least two indigenous tribes that live in voluntary isolation and one of the most biodiverse places on earth. Ecuador proposes to leave the nearly one billion barrel ITT oilfield unexploited in order to preserve Yasuni’s astounding biodiversity, ecosystem services, and the cultural integrity of its indigenous inhabitants.

Correa’s and Lula’s future corridor – or commodity highway – planned to criss-cross the Andes and the Amazon to bring plastics one way and natural resources the other includes the River Napo, which flows right past Yasuni, as an hidrovia or waterway (that is, more or less: river + concrete = stable route). Hardly what you’d call preserving “the cultural integrity of its indigenous inhabitants” if you destroy their river upon which they in great part depend.