Ecuador has auctioned off three million of the country’s 8.1 million hectares of pristine Amazonian rain forest to Chinese oil companies, angering indigenous groups and underlining the global environmental toll of China’s insatiable thirst for energy.
A group of Ecuadorean politicians pitched bidding contracts to representatives of Chinese oil companies at a Hilton hotel in central Beijing, on the fourth leg of a roadshow to publicize the bidding process.
Previous meetings in Ecuador’s capital, Quito, and in Houston and Paris were each confronted with protests by indigenous groups.
Attending the roadshow were black-suited representatives from oil companies including China Petrochemical and China National Offshore Oil.
Ecuador is willing to establish a relationship of mutual benefit – a win-win relationship, said Ecuador’s ambassador to China in opening remarks in 2014.
In 2009 China began loaning Ecuador billions of dollars in exchange for oil shipments. It also helped fund two of the country’s biggest hydroelectric infrastructure projects.
China National Petroleum Corp may soon have a 30% stake in a $10 billion oil refinery in Ecuador.
The seven indigenous groups who live on the land are not happy, especially because last year a court ruled that governments must obtain “free, prior, and informed consent” from native groups before approving oil activities on their indigenous 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,” Narcisa Mashienta, a leader of Ecuador’s Shuar people.
The “indigenous people living in the Pastaza river basin near Peru’s border with Ecuador have complained for decades about … pollution,” which has been caused by high levels of petroleum-related compounds in the area.
The Argentinian company Pluspetrol has operated oil fields there since 2001.
A TV news report broadcast by the US Spanish-language network Telemundo showed members of Ecuadorean native groups, some wearing traditional face paint and headdresses, waving protest banners and scuffling with security guards outside the Ecuadorean government’s roadshow stop in Houston.
The Guardian / AB Canada Flash Point news 2020.