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Amazon Reserve Opens for Oil Drilling, Ecuador's President Blames the World

[Links are to Spanish-language pages except where noted.]

Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa issued an executive decree ending the Yasuní-ITT [en] initiative, a government project that sought to protect and keep a section of the Yasuní National Park [en], a natural reserve in the Amazon that is unique in the world for the biodiversity of its fauna and flora, off-limits.

Under the Yasuní-ITT initiative, the Correa government proposed leaving the oil fields of the Ishpingo – Tiputini – Tambococha zone of the Yasuní National Park untapped, in exchange for compensation by the international community for any potential income that would have been gained from extracting the oil.

After several meetings to evaluate the results of the initiative, President Correa declared on national television, on the evening of 15 August 2013, that the world “had failed” Ecuador by not contributing the money required for the initiative. Correa emphasized that “the underlying reason for the failure is that the world is hypocritical and that the logic that prevails is not one of justice but of power.”

Correa annnounced that he would request authorization from the National Assembly to exploit oil reserves that would affect only one percent of the Yasuní Park. Afterwards on Twitter he promised:

I made a mistake: I meant to say that it would affect only ONE THOUSANDTH (not 1%) of our Yasuní. I promise you!

In his speech, Correa said that Ecuador needs its natural resources to “overcome poverty” and ordered that he be provided with technical, economic, and legal reports to ensure “responsible extraction” of the oil.

While President Correa appeared on national television, thousands of people were mobilizing outside the government headquarters in Carondelet Palace to demand that the oil remain below ground.

Several demonstrators tweeted about what was going on during the demonstration under the hashtag #NoToquenelYasuní [Don't touch Yasuní]. Quito resident Majito Lasso (@majitolasso) published a photo of those in favour of and those against drilling for oil:

The Plaza Grande right now! Half Yasuní, half supporting Correa's decision…Let's go #NoToquenelYasuní come on down!

Journalist Paul Mena (@PaulMena) wrote about Ecuadorians who were tweeting under the hashtag #NoToquenelYasuní.

 #NoToquenElYasuni is the No. 1 trend on Twitter #Ecuador, meanwhile environmentalists and gov supporters are meeting outside the Government Palace.

Silvana Estacio (@silvana0286) reported on how the residents of Cuenca joined in the fight for the Yasuní.

#NoToquenElYasuní is the the slogan that a group of young people in Calderón Park are using in #Cuenca

Joffre Reinoso Lopez (@joff_reinoso) reacted this way after hearing the government's decision:

#NoToquenElYasuni This decision should be the Ecuadorian people's who should be consulted and not get screwed by foreigners!

Joshi Espinoza (@joshi_espinoza) addressed the President, insisting that public consultation was required before making this decision:

@MashiRafael WE ALL WANT A PUBLIC CONSULTATION!  #notoquenelyasuni

University professor Tuesman Castillo (@tuesman) for his part emphasized:

I support #notoquenelyasuni @MashiRafael Ecuador will be richer if we keep it intact

Guayaquil resident Roberto Chang (@changroberto) tweeted sadly:

Tonight will be bitter and sad!! We will witness the beginning of the plundering of the essence of life, #NoToquenElYasuni

Yomita (@S0_mala), another Guayaquil resident and animal lover, wrote:

For those marvellous beings who have no voice but were part of this earth before us #notoquenelyasuni

Colombian journalist Luz Carime Hurtado (@Carimehurtado) showed her support for maintaining Yasuní Park:

My support for #Ecuador let's not screw the environment. #NoToquenElYasuní

Verito Sánchez (@VeritoSanchez_), an Ecuadorian ecologist, wrote:

We are many, many more, all together for the #Yasuni #NotoquenelYasuní all lovers of #Naturaleza [nature]

Journalist Gaben Quiroz (@GabenQ) referred to the lack of support from the international community:

 85% of Ecuadorians are in favour of leaving the crude below ground, but the blame goes to the international community…. #notoquenelyasuni

Ecuador Biodiverso (@EcuadorEsVida), a website that supports biodiversity, shared a photo:

A look at life on the planet, a door to the paradise that is Yasuni  #NoToquenElYasuni #Ecuador is life pic.twitter.com/A9XzwtsTfr

Meanwhile, television producer Jalál DuBois (@jalaldubois) said it was a necessary sacrifice:

@MashiRafael the sacrifice is great, but necessary! I wish for wisdom more than “practicality” or “technicality” #NoToquenElYasuní

On the other hand, blogger Rafael Lugo reflected on the exploitation of an ecological preserve and criticized the hashtag #NoToquenElYasuní:

El Yasuní se ha vuelto palabra genérica que a muchos hace creer lo equivocado, es decir que es un parque virgen que se irá al infierno por la explotación del Bloque ITT. Lo cierto es que el Yasuní es un parque que desde hace años está ocupado en un enorme porcentaje de su territorio por el bloque 31 (de explotación petrolera) y el ITT está listo para lo mismo porque ya se hicieron los estudios geológicos –e invasivos- necesarios para saber que ahí hay mucho crudo. O sea aquello del No Toquen al Yasuní es, digamos, un pelín extemporáneo y candoroso.

The Yasuní has become a generic word which leads many to think erroneously, that is to say that it is a virgin park that will go to hell with the exploitation of the ITT block. It is true that the Yasuní is a park which for years has had an enormous percentage of its territory occupied by block 31 (for oil extraction) and that the ITT is ready for the same because the necessary—and invasive—geological studies have already been done to determine that there is a lot of crude. In other words that No Toquen al Yasuní is, let's say, a little naive.

Moreover he criticized Ecuadorians who consume subsidized gasoline and protest about keeping the Yasuní.

Aproximadamente 3500 millones de dólares nos regala el papá estado en subsidios al gas y a la gasolina AL AÑO, a nosotros que tanto nos quejamos de que se explote el petróleo mientras aceleramos el carro.

Approximately 3500 million dollars is what the nanny state gives us in gas and gasoline subsidies PER YEAR, to us who complain about drilling for oil while we put the pedal to the metal.

Despite his strong criticism, the blogger made it clear that he was against oil exploration and development in “areas so unique and delicate.”

Meanwhile on Facebook, the group No Toquen el Yasuní—which in two days had added more than 30,000 followers—say that they will follow the hashtag #‎ExplotacionConResponsabilidad‬, and demand transparency “and that the situation be explained to them clearly and in detail: Not just for Yasuní but also for all activities that extract resources from the Pachamama.”

Photo shared by the Facebook group No Toquen El Yasuní

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