To Pay Off Billions In Debt, Ecuador Is Going To Extremes

In spite of the incredible consequences, Ecuador is auctioning off 3 million pristine Amazonian hectares to oil companies in China to help reduce the country’s debt.

With the sale of part of the Amazon, Ecuador hopes to reduce the $7 billion debt it has with China, who has been loaning money in exchange for oil. “My understanding is that this is more of a debt issue – it’s because the Ecuadoreans are so dependent on the Chinese to finance their development that they’re willing to compromise in other areas such as social and environmental regulations,” said Adam Zuckerman, from the NGO Amazon Watch.

However, there are seven indigenous groups in the area who are fighting the auction since a court ruling said they must give permission to the government to do anything with the land. “They have not consulted us, and we’re here to tell the big investors that they don’t have our permission to exploit our land,” said Narcisa Mashienta, a leader of Ecuador’s Shuar people.

Ecuador’s secretary of hydrocarbons, Andrés Donoso Fabara, rebutted telling The Guardian, “These guys [indigenous leaders] with a political agenda, they are not thinking about development or about fighting against poverty. We are entitled by law, if we wanted, to go in by force and do some activities even if they are against them, but that’s not our policy.”

But it’s not just Ecuador at stake.  The auction comes as neighboring Peru has declared an environmental state of emergency because of the high amounts of pollution in their part of the Amazon. What’s worse is that these groups have been complaining about the pollution for years, since Pluspetrol, an Argentinian oil company, has been working there since 2001.

Read more about the auction from The Guardian here.

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