March 26, 2023
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Oil drilling in Yasuni, the last resort for a bleak economy

Recently I heard from a professor that Ecuadorian government has granted Chinese Developmental Bank a drilling license for oil on an area in the Amazon jungle. The native people that lived there was ready to fight the government with their weapons in an effort to resist the drilling team from Chinese Development Bank. My professor guesses that the whole group of people will disappear if they fight the government, but they are ready for that. He plans to go there and cover the story because otherwise the whole group will disappear without a trace and no one will even hear about it.

The story itself saddens me, especially because the main driving force for their extinction is an offer from a Chinese company. So I did a bit of research and found that the Ecuadorian government has already signed a deal with China and the indigenous group caved in, while “asking for financial help from the government to fund education, healthcare and land rights,” according to a report by the International Business Times.

According to Ecuadorian President Correa, the country “needed the investment.” Ecuador holds crude oil reserves worth more than $7.2 billions at today’s prices. While ensuring “the most stringent environmental procedures would be followed,” it’s highly unlikely the indigenous population can still have their land intact and unharmed.

The more frustrating part is that, letting foreign enterprise drilling in Amazon jungle is not the only option. According to a petition created by Ivonne Y., an Ecuadorian, “If President Correa raised taxes on the 110 biggest businesses in Ecuador by 1.5%--which now pay a measly 2.9%--it would raise $20 billion, more than exploiting Yasuní-ITT.”

In the same petition, it also highlights the environmental/biological harm if the drilling happen:

– slow climate change by keeping 400 million additional tons of CO2 underground

– protect one of the last refuges of the American jaguar and millions of species of plants and animals

– defend some of world’s last people living in voluntary isolation

There are other downfalls that has already happened in many part of the country: shortage of clean water, increased risk of getting cancer and so on. What evenly more disturbing is the lack of transparency in the whole process; China has a habit of hiding the truth if things go bad even in its country, let alone in Ecuador where there is very limited outside attention.

For now, it’s a blatantly bad situation. Everybody knows this will be a one way street, even the Ecuadorian government. But they are still going through with the contract and disregard the environmental harm that has already been repeated in other parts of the country and in neighboring countries. Again, for netizens like us, there is not much we can do but to spread awareness and just hope that President Correa will have a change of heart. And if he has to go on with this, he would cling on to the promises he made to the indigenous population and provide them with the proper assistance.