Indigenous Leaders meet in Puyo, Ecuador to Oppose the XI Oil Round
April 12, 2013 | Alex Goff
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The XI Oil Round is the Ecuadorian government's auctioning of 16 oil blocks in the south-central Ecuadorian Amazon. The blocks cover over ten million acres of pristine rainforest. Studies show that 85% of the area included in the round is intact, primary forest, and the ancestral homeland of seven indigenous nationalities: Shuar, Achuar, Shiwiar, Andoa, Kichwa, Zápara, and Waorani. This is not the first time these oil blocks have been up for auction. Previous administrations attempted a licitation round of the very same blocks, but received no bids due to indigenous resistance in the area. Even the Ecuadorian government has called the blocks "high risk." Leaders of the seven nationalities claim that a prior consultation process was not carried out in accordance with international legislation and Ecuador's constitution.
At the meeting and press conference in Puyo, the indigenous leaders soundly rejected the consultation process and expressed their base communities' firm opposition to the XI Oil Round. Cristóbal Jimpikit, president of the Shuar Federation of Pastaza spoke on behalf of the Shuar nationality stating, "We have decided not to allow the extractivist companies to enter and carry out operations in our territory. We declare a state of highest alert in the face of companies' plans to enter our communities."
Several leaders rejected agreements reached between former leaders and the Ecuadorian government, claiming that these deals took place behind the backs of the base communities without their consent.
Eddy Timias, President of the Shuar Federation of Sucumbíos in the northern Ecuadorian Amazon, denounced the negative impact of oil activity after 40 years in the area where his community is located, citing the consistent failure of oil companies and the government to comply with communities' demands. He expressed his unconditional support for the struggle in the south-central Amazon.
"Our territories belong to our ancestors, they belong to our grandparents, first they will have to kill us to operate in our territory," explained delegates from the community of Amazanga.
The meeting ended with an agreement to expand upon resolutions that will be put forth in upcoming conferences, and to spread news of the resolutions throughout local communities as well the national and international public. Before leaving the conference, leaders took up the cry, "The resistance grows and will triumph!"