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Ecuadorian Indigenous Groups Resist Oil Extraction in Amazon Rainforest

From AmazonWatch.org:

Hundreds of indigenous people gathered outside the Marriott Hotel in Quito today at the VII Annual Meeting of Oil and Energy where the Ecuadorian government announced the opening of the XI Round, an oil auction in which 13 oil blocks went on sale covering nearly eight million acres of rainforest in the Amazonian provinces of Pastaza and Morona Santiago near the border with Peru.

AmazonWatch says the protests are led by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) and the Confederation of Amazonian Indigenous Nationalities (CONFENIAE), which represent seven indigenous nationalities.   Overtaking the entrance to the hotel and were meet by military, police, private security forces and pepper spray, several of the leaders entered the meeting and publicly confronted Minister of Non-Renewable Energy Wilson Pastor.

"CONFENIAE was never consulted about this," said Franco Viteri, President of CONFENIAE. "Our position on oil extraction is clear: We are absolutely opposed."

The indigenous groups have historically opposed oil drilling on their ancestral lands, fearing damage to their water supply and threats to their traditional way of life.  Achuar leader Domingo Peas claims that the so-called "consultation" process by the Ecuadorian government did not include indigenous participation and was not in accordance with traditional decision-making practices nor carried out in native languages.

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Meanwhile, a coalition of indigenous groups continues to fight in international courts to extract a payment of $19 billion by the oil giant Chevron and its subsidiaries, held liable in an Ecuadorian court for decades of pollution from substantard oil drilling practices.   AmazonWatch explains their claims against Chevron in this video: