We Demand the Annulment of Unconstitutional Executive Decrees That Seek to Intensify Hydrocarbon and Mining Extraction in Ecuador

 

For more information, contact:

Alejandra Yépez Jácome at ayepez@amazonwatch.org or +593.992.713.867


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Puyo, Ecuador – Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso issued Executive Decrees 95 and 151 – on July 7 and August 5, 2021, respectively – which immediately formalize profound transformations of Ecuador's oil and mining policies. These documents have raised our concern about the violation of our essential rights to participate in decisions that may affect us. These new policies risk serious and irreparable damage by expanding the extractive frontier and ignoring existing social conflicts, as well as previous judgments and directives that have declared the government of Ecuador responsible for the infringement of collective rights both in the national justice system and in multilateral organizations with which this country has commitments and obligations, such as the Inter-American and Universal Human Rights System.

Decree 95, uses a deceitful narrative to prioritize the interests of the private sector and financial entities by proposing a "transition" of control and management of strategic sectors from the Ecuadorian government to transnational companies. This transfer implies that the Executive branch review, accelerate, and simplify several processes to authorize the bidding and/or concession of oil blocks. It also makes several regulatory changes that circumvent the constitutional framework of the guaranteed rights and sovereignty over the administration of natural resources. Likewise, we observe with great concern that this decree will have a considerable impact on the government's tax revenues, to the detriment of the economic, social, and cultural rights of the population. In addition, it ensures profits for companies by transferring the externalities to the government and, of course, to us: those who inhabit these territories.

Decree 151, meanwhile, seeks to position the country as an attractive destination for mining investment. By doing so, it establishes a narrative that mining will bring development and solve the economic crisis that we are going through. This is of great concern because several of our organizations have declared their territories free of mining. We do not want this mining policy to justify the increasing attacks and stigmatization of people who oppose mining activities. Likewise, this decree proposes the acceleration of the environmental and social licensing process for the granting of mining concessions and changes the contractual conditions between the parties, which weaken the Ecuadorian government's oversight and expand the ability for companies to operate freely.

Both decrees enable institutional channels to expand extractivism. But, omitted, is an explanation of how the rights of nature, human, and collective of Indigenous peoples and environmental defenders that are currently criminalized will be protected. Hence, the environmental commitments signed by Guillermo Lasso during the presidential campaign constitute yet another lie to Indigenous peoples. Through these decrees, the Ecuadorian government fails to comply with its international human rights commitments, including the Escazú Agreement, which recently became binding.

Mr. Guillermo Lasso, we remind you that the government's ministries should not be at the service of the oil and mining extraction companies. On the contrary, the state apparatus must be dedicated to the protection of the collective interests of the population, human rights, collective rights, and nature.

Currently, both the oil blocks and the mining concessions cover most of our territories. Thus, the adverse impacts will be greater if they are expanded. These decrees violate both the right to decide our economic, social, and cultural development as well as the essential relationship with our ancestral territories, on which our physical and cultural survival is based. This has never been understood or respected by any Ecuadorian government and affects our way of life and the future of our Peoples and Nationalities. The announcement of increasing oil and mining production implies the continuity and deepening of these practices. Therefore, these decisions promote the ethnocide and extermination of the Indigenous peoples of Ecuador and are the responsibility of Mr. Guillermo Lasso and his cabinet.

The issuance of these decrees violates our right to prior, free, and informed consultation and consent in the face of any decision, normative or administrative, that is recognized in ILO Convention 169, the United Nations and American Declaration on rights of the Indigenous Peoples and in the Constitution of 2008, article 57 numerals 7 and 17; and ratified by the Constitutional Court of Ecuador. Likewise, we recall that the Ecuadorian government has been declared responsible both by the national courts (Provincial Courts and the Constitutional Court) and by the international courts (Inter-American Court) for violating this fundamental right, a cornerstone for exercising the entirety of our rights, especially self-determination over our development processes and participation in processes or governmental decisions of any kind that may affect us. In addition, it fails to comply with its international obligations derived from the commitments made in the Paris Agreement and the multiple instruments for human rights which call for the suspension of extractive activities to combat climate change, whose effects are irreversible.

Therefore, it is incomprehensible how the current administration promotes these decrees, even more so when the International Energy Agency urged the end of the production of fossil fuels in the Amazon in its last report, given that we are at a turning point that defines the destiny of humanity. These kinds of policies are so out of step with the findings of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which declared that the climate emergency can only be mitigated if urgent decisions are made by governments toto slow down global warming, among the most urgent being the end of fossil fuel production and drivers of deforestation and pollution like mining.

We denounce the intention of the Lasso administration to allow oil and mining companies to have the ability to carry out extractive activities in our territories. With the issuance of these decrees, we return to the neoliberal era of the 1970's and 80's, which left serious effects on the territories, as in the Chevron-Texaco case, of which evidence still exists to this day. Since then, the false promise of development based on extractivism has been promoted, but that, so far, has not been accomplished. Our Amazonian populations are the poorest in the country, with the lowest rates of fulfillment of access to basic needs and services. However, in the face of these environmental and social crimes, a product of corporate abuses, the government insists on violating the Constitution and changing the rules of the game on the mechanisms for resolving conflicts and controversies, admitting the inclusion of the country in the International Center for Settlement Investment Disputes (ICSID) and other international arbitration mechanisms.

In addition, faced with the creation of a specific law that regulates governmental obligations to guarantee the right to prior consultation and consent, we remind and demand that the President of the Republic and his cabinet adhere to the CONFENIAE resolutions on guarantees in the exercise of the Right of Consultation and Free, Prior, and Informed Consent of the Amazonian Peoples and Nationalities, built from a participatory process among the Amazonian peoples, on April 6, 2021.

Based on this, protected by the principle of unity, the undersigned organizations reject the intentions of the national government and are willing to continue with actions of struggle, resistance, governance, and territorial control – actions that we have historically exercised, and that are necessary to protect life and the integrity of our territories.

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