Leave the Oil in the Soil: Yasuni, ITT, the Huaorani people and the Amazon.

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There is a potentially radical process unfolding – keep the oil in the soil:

“In the heart of the Amazon basin lies the most biologically diverse forest on the planet, Yasuní. Yasuní National Park is home to the Waorani and some of the last indigenous peoples still living in isolation in the Amazon, whose ancestral lands sit atop Ecuador’s largest undeveloped oil reserves, the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) oil block … In 2007, the new government of President Correa has offered an unprecedented and historic proposal: Ecuador will not allow extraction of the ITT oil fields in Yasuní, if the world community can create a compensation trust to leave the oil permanently in the ground and fund Ecuador’s sustainable development into the future. The groups listed on this website portal, LiveYasuni.org, endorse this policy.

For a general overview visit http://www.sosyasuni.org/ – which is part of the Amazonia por la Vida Campaign (which is incidentally also the subtitle of the colonos blog) – and which is a social movement to expand the “keep the oil in the soil” proposal to include not only the ITT blocks, but the whole region, which is home to one of the world’s greatest diversity of species (some of which are from before last ice age) and home also to the Huaorani people and along the Napo river there are many Kichwa communities as well. Missing from the proposal, then, are at least:


block 31 (70% inside the Yasuni National park, 100% inside the Yasuni biosphere Reserve, which is Yasuni Park + the Huaorani Territory), contracted to Petrobras (previously to Argentinian Perez Companc, which in 1997/1998 seismic studies estimated the block to contain 230 million barrels of heavy crude “18 degrees API”;

block 16 (which used to be within Yasuni, but the boundaries of the park were altered so as to allow for oil drilling in what is essentially Huaorani territory — the Yasuni National Park + the Huaorani territory = Yasuni Biosphere Reserve, which has been declared by UNESCO in 1989 as a “Reserva Mundial de la Biosfera” (UNESCO “World Biosphere Reserve”));

block 14, of which 65% is inside the Yasuni National Park.

block 17 – it comprises 5764 hectares inside the Yasuni.

block 15 – of which 209km2 is inside the Yasuni.
Data from: “Atlas Amazonico del Ecuador: Agresiones y reistancias“. Ed. 2006 (issued in 2000 copies) – by Accion Ecologica and CONAIE. (funded by Oil Watch et al.).

Note also that there is already a lot of development in the area, private roads secured by mercenaries and drilling and what not, here some shots from the River Napo:

^^ this is in the Yasuni region ^^

^^ on the River Napo, which flows right through Hauorani territory and the Yasuni ^^

However, notwithstanding how much or how little of the oil stays in the soil, then it is absolutely important that the arrangement is configured as an ecological justice issue – a debt, a reparation – rather than as a market solution to market disasters. Patrick Bond does some very good work with the Durban group for Climate Justice to establish this:

…a movement is growing for the North’s repayment of a multi-trillion dollar ecological debt which the richest people owe the world’s poorest for their disproportionate use of the world’s environmental space; one example is the September 2007 decision by the Ecuadoran government to refrain from petroleum exploitation in a national park (‘keep the oil in the soil’), to be partially financed by Northern ecological debt repayment. These are interrelated struggles for historical social justice whose courtroom and economic aspects are important, but less so than the implications for a deeper, more durable politics of resistance to primitive accumulation. They deserve support and extension so as to establish not only legal precedent and monetary compensation, but also disincentivise capital from maintaining the current imperial power structure (e.g. the looting of Iraq), and, most importantly, link social movements in international campaigns for economic justice.”

However, another severe threat to the region is the Manta-Manaus corridor! Another struggle….

Hasta la Victoria Siempre! Amazonia – por la Vida!

One thought on “Leave the Oil in the Soil: Yasuni, ITT, the Huaorani people and the Amazon.

    What does a Christian of the Left do when the people protest? « colonos said:
    Friday, November 30, 2007 at 12:56 (580)

    […] (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 […]

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