Transnationals and militarization in Ecuador

During the last weeks of November and during most of December of 2007 a state of emergency (militarization of the zone) was declared in the Province of Orellana in the Amazon region of Ecuador, due specifically to the actions of the inhabitants of the Dayuma settlement who have raise up in protest because of the situation of abandonment on the part of the Ecuadorian government.

This militarization and repression has lead to various arrests and unlawful entry into homes of the residents, violating their Human Rights, only because they demanded that their basic needs be met.

But what is the true reason as to why the state of Ecuador has militarized this province?

In the province, one can find well-established state and transnational oil companies such as Repsol-YPF (Spain), Petrobell (Canada), Petrosud-Petrorivas (Argentina), Petroriental (China), Perenco (France), SIPEC/ ENAP (Chile), Petrobrás (Brazil), and Petroecuador (Ecuador), among others.

The state of emergency was declared basically to assure that these oil companies can continue to exploit oil without opposition and as a result, the Ecuadorian Army has threatened, suppressed, and imprisoned the population of Orellana.

The justification of the Ecuadorian Government is that no one can hinder “The development of the country,” and because of this, Ecuador's oil should be exploited at all costs.  Here you can read from  the President of Ecuador – Rafael Correa's - own words “It is not the communities that are protesting, but a group of terrorists.

The people of the east don't support the romantic environmentalists, and it is those childish leftists who want to destabilise the government. Don't believe the romantic environmentalists. Everyone who opposes the development of the country is a terrorist.

There are terrorist people who make use of the inhabitants, saying that their territories have been forgotten. Don't let yourselves be deceived.

The government is investigating who are behind all this. We even have information that sectors of the church are included. Hopefully this is untrue, because it would be terrible if church people were involved in such error.

The government will not allow exploitation of minerals and oil to be halted.

I refer to EcuaCorriente [the Ecuadorian sector of a Canadian mining company] because those millions will permit the country to be taken out of underdevelopment. We need them to build schools and health centers.

It is more immoral to avoid the cost-benefit of exploiting the ITT [oilfield] and making gaps in the jungle, because we need the money from exploitation of minerals and oil. I say it's more immoral to let people die by defending birds and trees”.

This is another fact that confirms that in Ecuador, just like in other countries of the world, the interests of the transnational companies are favored over those of the people.

In addition, the Ecuadorian Army has a consortium of companies that are among the 25 largest businesses in all of Ecuador, and many of its companies are suppliers to the oil sector. For example, the Cuerpo de Ingenieros del Ejército, or the Body of Army Engineers, has a series of contracts to construct highways in the Ecuadorian Amazon, and the army's air force has contracts with the oil companies to use their helicopters to transport materials for the oil towers.

The transnational oil companies are the true negotiators of the war, since they manipulate the state and the army at their every desire, obligating them to repress and threaten the population in order to be able to continue oil exploitation and maximize their earnings.

It is logical that these companies want to exploit more and more oil because the price per barrel boarders 100 USD, making oil exploitation a very lucrative business. Additionally, from every barrel exploited from the Ecuadorian Amazon, the state only receives 20% of the earnings. This means that if a barrel cost 60 USD, the state only receives 12 USD. However, this is changing due to some state decrees that will allow the state to earn more.

Under this model that favors the earnings of the oil companies over the rights of the state population, the state is doing whatever it likes with the population and is using adjectives to describe them such as “terrorists”, “delinquents”, “fanatics”, etc. as is seen in the style of the Bush's speeches, trying to criminalize the mobilization of the people.

The power of the transnational companies in Ecuador over the army and the state has arrived at the point to when a member of the army comes to a community to make an arrest, he is frequently accompanied by a representative from the oil company, making a subtle implication that it was the oil company who ordered the arrest.

Up until now there are still people who were arrested and detained because of the situation in Dayuma. They will be prosecuted under charges of terrorism, and acting against the state, among others.

If you would like more information about the situation in Orellana or are interested in helping those who have been arrested, you can visit the following web pages: www.accionecologica.org, www.cedhu.org, www.inredg.org/. These websites contain detailed information about the situation and what is currently going on in the area.

Xavier Leon