Published: April 10, 2014
By: Earthworks et al.
In Ecuador, thousands have come out to the streets to protest President Rafael Correa's decision to move ahead with oil exploitation in Yasuní-ITT. Yasuní is one of the most biodiverse regions in the planet and home to two of the last indigenous groups living in voluntary isolation. Oil exploitation in Yasuní-ITT is not a necessity for the welfare of Ecuadorians. If President Correa were to increase only 1.5% of taxes to the 110 wealthiest companies in Ecuador —which currently pay a mere 2.9%— he would be able to collect $20 billion dollars, which is more than he would get from the oil extracted from Yasuní-ITT.
We support a revolutionary plan to preserve the Yasuní-ITT region, and YASunidos in Ecuador, together with social, rights and indigenous organizations, have collected the 600 thousand signatures needed to hold a National Referendum that could put a stop to oil exploration in the area, with the following question: Are you in favor of the Ecuadorian government keeping the oil underground indefinitely under ITT, also known as Block 43?
If we are able to save Yasuní-ITT this would:
- Help us curb climate change by keeping underground about 400 million tons of CO2.
- Protect one of the last refuges of the American jaguar and millions of other plant and animal species (some still unknown).
- Safeguard indigenous groups living in voluntary isolation, the Tagaeri y Taromenane.
If we save Yasuní, we will prevent repeating Texaco's (now Chevron) legacy in the Ecuadorian Amazon. With Texaco, two indigenous groups disappeared completely; the company contaminated most rivers and land in the region, leaving behind a cancer epidemic. Despite promises to improve oil extraction technologies, after Texaco left the country, Ecuador has seen 539 oil spills on its territory from 2000 to 2010, that is, almost one per week.
We request, as part of the international community, that Ecuador's government respects YASunidos' request, as a right stipulated on Ecuador's Constitution, to take this crucial issue to a National Referendum.
The world is watching because Yasuní is an example of democracy and conscience in the face of the world's environmental problems.