Eye on the Amazon

Idle No More Goes Up Against Ecuador's 11th Round

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Award-winning actress and aboriginal activist Michelle Thrush is no stranger to public speaking. But her latest brilliant performance was not on a set; it was in a recent meeting between the Ecuadorian government and Canadian oil investors conducted in Calgary as Ecuador peddles the 11th Oil Round around the globe.

Introducing herself by her native name of Goodfeathers Woman, Michelle demanded to know why the Ecuadorian government is "auctioning off over three million hectares of indigenous land in the Amazon without the consent of the people who live there." Striding to the front of the room, she presented the government with a declaration of opposition from five indigenous nationalities whose rainforest communities would be devastated by the oil round. Amazon Watch community liaison Mike Byerley and three other activists who strategically entered the meeting filmed the encounter, holding up a banner that read ¡Basta de Contaminación Petrolera! (Enough with Oil Contamination!)

The group later joined dozens of activists outside, many of whom had worked with the Achuar people and Amazon Watch to kick Calgary-based Talisman Energy out of the Peruvian Amazon. They knew that Achuar territory just across the border was for sale, and that any oil exploration in Ecuador would also impact the Achuar in Peru, who live downstream of the proposed blocks.

Others, united in support of the "Idle No More" movement, were disturbed by the contamination that oil companies had caused and continue to cause in Canada. They knew that their indigenous brothers and sisters in the south might face a similar fate if they didn't join their struggle.

Amazon Watch and our allies also confronted the Ecuadorian government at its 11th Round Oil launch in Quito and on its roadshow in Houston and Paris. More than one million people have signed a petition calling on Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa to cancel the oil round.

This fight is not over. The Achuar, Shuar, Zápara, Shiwiar, and Kichwa are mobilizing and we will continue to support them in their struggle. As Jaime Vargas, President of the Achuar Nationality of Ecuador, said in Houston, "Any drilling activities on our lands will be met with fierce resistance. We've seen the impact of oil extraction in Ecuador and the world and we know that it only brings contamination, poverty, and cultural destruction. We will defend our sacred lands and culture as we have for millennia."

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