Amazon Watch Statement Regarding the Decision to Delay Licensing of Ecuadorian Oil Blocks 86 and 87

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On Thursday, May 9th, 2019, Ecuador's Minister of Energy and Non-renewable Resources, Carlos Pérez García, announced that the government will delay the licensing of oil blocks 86 and 87 in the remote eastern corner of Ecuador because "the issue has not been sufficiently 'socialized' with communities in the area." This decision represents a marked shift from October 2018 when the Minister announced plans to license the blocks and claimed that Indigenous peoples did not live in the areas slated for auction.

Following this announcement, the Shiwiar, Kichwa, and Sapara communities convened a special assembly to discuss these plans and delivered a resolution to the Ecuadorian government rejecting oil development on their territories.

During the briefing, Pérez García also announced forthcoming regulatory reforms pertaining to the prior consultation and popular votes regarding oil, mining, and hydroelectric developments.

In response to these developments, Indigenous leaders from Ecuador and a representative from Amazon Watch issued the following statements:

"The decision to put a hold on auctioning blocks 86 and 87 shows that the advocacy made by Shiwiar, Sapara, and Kichwa Indigenous peoples to protect their territories, that are part of the best preserved tropical forests in the country, has been successful. While we celebrate this victory, we know that the next step must not be further 'socializations.' It must instead be the permanent cancellation of these oil blocks, which communities have already roundly rejected."

Carlos Mazabanda, Ecuador Field Coordinator of Amazon Watch

"Although they 'socialize' 20 or 30 times, the communities have already made a decision. We are firm: we do not want oil exploitation in our territories. We will continue struggling to enforce our decision."

Nema Grefa, President of the Sapara Nation, eight of whose communities would be affected by blocks 86 and 87

"I have to share my complete rejection of the Minister's statements. It is not necessary to have more consultations; the Kichwa communities have resolved not to allow any extractive project on our territories. We demand that Minister Pérez and the government respect the decisions that we have made for our territories. We call on the international community to be vigilant because this is where we live, this is the ancestral home of the Shiwiar, Sapara, and Kichwa. We invite the national government to instead adopt our alternative to oil drilling, our life plan that we call Kawsak Sacha (Living Forest) that strives for respect and harmony with all the beings that live in our territories."

Linet Calapucha, Vice President of the Kichwa Nationality of Pastaza (PAKIRU)

"In the face of the declaration from Minister Pérez, our position as CONFENIAE is to continue the fight for territorial defense and against extractive projects on our territories. We already know the harms that these projects have caused, for example in the northern Amazon. From now on, Amazonian Indigenous organizations are on high alert to take action in defense of our territories because this government, this president, has broken their word of not continuing with oil and mining projects on our lands. They have said that the oil and the mining 'happens because it happens.' IIndigenous peoples say 'the struggle happens because it happens' because we will not allow more oil and mining projects on our territories."

Marlon Vargas, President of CONFENIAE, Indigenous federation of the Ecuadorian Amazon

"The recent announcement of Minister Carlos Pérez shows his desperation in the face of the resolutions we made in the Assembly where we met the Shiwiar, Sapara, and Kichwa communities. Before, he said that in blocks 86 and 87 there were no communities. Now, he wants to 'socialiize' us. In the Assembly, the resolution we took was clear: we do not need socialization or prior consultation, we have already made a decision: We will not allow oil exploitation in our territories, therefore we demand that the Minister of Hydrocarbons, Carlos Pérez, and the President of the Ecuador respect our rights to self-determination, to our territory, and to live in a healthy environment without contamination."

Edison Gualinga, President of the Shiwiar Nationality of Ecuador

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