An appeal to Merkel: Seven native peoples groups in the Yasuní National Park need to be protected from planned oil production!

Ecuador's President Correa visits Berlin (April 15th to 18th)

On occasion of the visit of the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, to Berlin, the STP points out the impending sell-out of the Yasuni National Park in the east of the South American country to oil companies. "We are very worried about the fate of seven native peoples groups, who are fighting against the bidding process for oil production licenses in the area. They were ignored by the government – illegally – and are now in fear of losing their land and their lives," said Yvonne Bangert, the STP's expert on question regarding indigenous peoples, in Göttingen on Monday. "Therefore, our human rights organization calls on Chancellor Angela Merkel to take sides with the endangered native peoples of Ecuador and ask their guests to be more considerate of the native peoples in the national park." In Yasuní Park, where the largest remaining untapped oil field in Ecuador is located, there are still about 2,000 Waorani people, including the two small groups of the Tagaeri and Taromenans who chose to live in isolation.

The indigenous communities have no land titles for the territory they have traditionally inhabited for centuries. "To this day, they think it should be taken for granted that the land and the natural resources in the area may not be sold," said Bangert. According to ILO Convention No. 169 and the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, they would have a right of co-determination regarding any projects on their land. But the government does not accept this. In another case – in July 2012 – Ecuador was convicted to pay compensation to the indigenous peoples for violating their right of co-determination.

The government of Ecuador is trying to attract investors, especially from China. In Beijing, representatives from Chinese oil companies had met a delegation from Ecuador on March 25, to gather information on the bidding process. Critics of the national oil policy – such as the former Energy Minister Alberto Acosta – had described this as a favor in return for the Chinese loans to finance public infrastructure projects in Ecuador.

"So far, the natives have no choice but to send an urgent plea – asking their interpretation of the law to be recognized and their territory to remain untouched," says Bangert. In fall of 2012, the indigenous peoples of the Association of Amazon Indians in Ecuador CONFENIAE had sent an appeal to the oil companies, asking them not to participate in the auctioning of the production shares.