Ecuador Team Mission

The team was deployed on a month-long mission to Ecuador (March 8-April 9, 2001). This mission was organized in response to repeated requests from several Ecuadorian indigenous organizations facing threats from new oil projects. The main goal of the mission was to assess the communications, media, and strategic campaigning skills for five organizations and to develop a plan for long-term capacity building.

In a departure from prior team missions where our trainings were carried out in a large workshop setting, our team in Ecuador carried out on-site training and needs assessment sessions separately with each of the five organizations in the Ecuadorian Amazon: Indigenous Federation of Achuar People of Ecuador (FINAE), Indigenous Federation of the Shuar People of Ecuador (FIPSE), Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENIAE), the Association of the Zapara People of the Pastaza Province in Ecuador, and the Front for the Defense of the Amazon (El FRENTE).

We visited each organization and spent 1 to 3 days addressing their specific needs including: skills assessment, technology needs assessment, basic training on email, web navigation, identifying appropriate internet strategies, technical troubleshooting, and planning for follow up.

According to the needs we identified, we donated basic equipment including a fax machine, several document scanners, a digital still camera, and new modems. Wherever needed, we needed adjustments to existing computers. The results of these visits are being transformed into a comprehensive report. In addition, a plan was developed where representative of these organizations would take part in a long-term training program coordinated by Ecuanex/Intercom, the Ecuadorian counter part of the U.S.-based Institute for Global Communications.

Field Investigations - As part of our recent Ecuador Mission, the team visited a number of "hot spots" threatened by proposed oil projects and gathered video and still images. These included Achuar communities threatened by the oil exploration activities of Burlington Resources (Block 24) and areas threatened by the 10th round of oil licensing for 11 new exploration blocks -encompassing 2.4 million hectares of intact rainforests in Southern Ecuadorian Amazon. We also visited and documented the Mindo Nambillo cloud forest reserve, an internationally recognized "Important Bird Area" with over 420 species of birds. This area is at risk as it is on the path of the new Heavy Crude Pipeline (OCP). Lastly, we visited with communities affected by existing oil camps including areas where Texaco left over 350 heavily contaminated sites. We are currently working on a Video News Release and B-Roll (selects) about the new heavy crude pipeline, which Amazon Watch will be distributing to the international media in coordination with future activities around these issues in Ecuador. We are also planning a delegation of international journalists to Ecuador in the later part of 2001.

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