In 2007, Ecuador, a country already heavily invested in oil development, surprised the world by announcing the Yasuní ITT (Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini) Initiative which aimed to indefinitely refrain from exploiting the oil reserves contained within one of the most biologically diverse regions of the Yasuní National Park, situated in the upper Ecuadorian Amazon.
Rather than issuing drilling permits to increase economic development by selling off the natural resources of this sacred and untouched area, the Ecuadorian government planned to petition the world to donate funds for the protection of this land. A bold and unique program that advertised the Yasuní National Park as a world treasure that should not be touched by industrial development. A plan, Ecuador said, that was in the best interest of all the people of the earth.
The Yasuní ITT initiative was abandoned less than 6 years later in 2013 when the president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, declared the initiative a failure after having received pledges for only $100 million dollars of the desired $3.6 billion sought, with only a fraction of the pledges being collected by the deadline in 2011. Even though the deal was a bit like paying a mob strongman to ‘secure the safety’ of your business in a mob-run part of town, it still represented a first for the industrialized world and an alternative to the slash-and-burn-and-cash-the-check, mentality of modern economics. But, as it turned out, the world simply did not care enough to buy the protection of this land.
Now, Ecuador has just issued the first environmental permit for oil drilling deep in a previously untouched part of the Yasuní national park, block 43, meaning that the jungle region is now officially opened for business.
“Environment Minister Lorena Tapia said on state television that with Thursday’s signing of the permit camps and access roads can now be built. Production could begin as early as 2016.” [Source]
This is great news for investors, oil companies, oil workers and colonists of the area, but an unprecedented disaster for the indigenous tribes of the region, people concerned with a biologically diverse and ecologically healthy future for the planet, and most importantly for the thousands of plant and animal species native to this region.
Many speculate this was the plan all along, as evidence has shown that even during the Yasuní ITT effort, the Correa government was already working behind the scenes to carve up the region into new oil blocks while also cutting roads deep into the rainforest, so that when the initiative did fail, they would be ready to dive right in full steam ahead with oil development.
Once the initiative began to falter, activists organized to fight the sell-off, and the Correa government responded by shutting down Ecuador’s Pachamama activist alliance, calling them a public nuisance. Then in 2014, activists raised close to a million public signatures in support of a referendum to prevent oil exploration in a 6,500 square mile region reserve, yet, due to obvious and overt attempts to sabotage this process, Ecuador’s electoral council declared the petition drive invalid earlier this month.
Ecuador, home to some of the most biologically diverse areas on the planet, is already experiencing an unprecedented surge in oil and gas investment and exploration. The country is criss-crossed with pipelines, while the major rivers are littered with oil barges and oil camps situated deep into the jungle. To further extend this development to these new areas of the Yasuní is unconscionable to many, and if the natural wonders of the earth are at to be at the whims of profiteers, then we might as well say goodbye to the Amazon.
“The ITT block of the Yasuní park, where the drilling will go ahead, is home to two uncontacted tribes. It is a Unesco site, and one hectare of the area is home to a richer mix of trees, birds, amphibians, and reptiles than the US and Canada put together.” [Source]
As Jonathon Miller-Weisberger, conservationist, activist and author of Rainforest Medicine: Preserving Indigenous Science and Biodiversity in the Upper Amazon, recently stated in regards to this development, “Were thick in the Kali Yuga! That as a society we need to do this is absolutely insane!”
Perhaps he’s right.
About the Author
Dylan Charles is the editor of Waking Times and co-host of Redesigning Reality, both dedicated to ideas of personal transformation, societal awakening, and planetary renewal. His personal journey is deeply inspired by shamanic plant medicines and the arts of Kung Fu, Qi Gong and Yoga. After seven years of living in Costa Rica, he now lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where he practices Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and enjoys spending time with family. He has written hundreds of articles, reaching and inspiring millions of people around the world.
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