Ecuador Forced to Delay Oil Round; Now Let's Make Them Cancel It!

Photo Credit: Joke Baert/Fundación Pachamama

Don't Drill the Amazon –
Defend It!

Please urge the Ecuadorian government to respect indigenous rights and the rights of nature by not drilling in the southern Amazon.

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It looks like the on-the-ground protests and international pressure on the Ecuadorian government worked! Just minutes before Tuesday's press conference where government officials were due to announce all the oil companies that submitted bids on their XI Round Amazonian oil auction, they extended the deadline for bids until November 28th, exactly a year after the auction began. It seems that not enough companies submitted bids on Ecuador's last remaining tract of virgin rainforest, an area that is home to seven indigenous nationalities.

Tuesday morning Amazonian indigenous leaders mobilized in the regional capital of Puyo to oppose the Ecuadorian government's attempts to auction off their land. They released a declaration in which they promised to exercise their constitutional right to "firmly resist any oil companies that try to enter [their] territories." Allies protested at the Ecuadorian consulate in Barcelona, and Amazon Watch supporters used this petition to flood the government with thousands of emails asking them to cancel the oil round and took to Twitter to tell them that the #AmazonNot4sale.

The Wall Street Journal and newspapers all over Ecuador reported the good news. El Comercio attributed the delay to "high levels of risk in the investments...and absence of agreements with the indigenous communities." Those are the very same risks that Amazon Watch and our partners have been voicing with the government and interested companies.

This is the second time that the government has been forced to extend the deadline for bids, and is just the latest in a series of serious setbacks to the government's attempts to auction off millions of acres of the Amazon. Last fall, the Government of Ecuador was forced to remove five of the most controversial oil blocks from the original tender. In March, it reduced expectations even further by stating that it was expecting bids on only six to ten oil blocks (down from the original 21). In late April, presumably because it had not received enough interest from potential bidders, the government announced that it was extending the deadline for companies to offer bids from May 31st to yesterday, July 16th. Two days later, Wilson Pastor, the Minister in charge of the oil round, announced his resignation. Pedro Merizalde, the new Minister of Non-Renewable Natural Resources (at least the name is honest), has received over 25,000 requests to defend the Amazon, not drill it in a petition launched last month. Please sign and share the petition if you haven't already.

We should celebrate this victory, but we still have a long fight ahead of us. We need to continue to support our indigenous partners in their struggle to defend their land and determine their own destiny. We've forced Ecuador to delay the round, now let's make them cancel it!

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