Oil boom threatens indigenous people


This video describes a journalism project that I carried out in Ecuador during the summer of 2014.
A new push to drill for oil in Ecuador could devastate a pristine jungle habitat and the indigenous people who live there.
The 3,793-square-mile Yasuni National Park contains more plant and animal species than all of North America. It sits atop nearly 900 million barrels of oil. It’s also the ancestral home to the Huaorani indigenous people, who have lived off the land for more than 1,000 years.
The Ecuadorean government in 2007 had offered to ban drilling in the ecologically fragile Yasuni park in exchange for $3.5 billion in contributions from the international community.
Donations fell short and the government dropped the plan.
Even before that failure was announced in 2013, documents show that the Ecuadorean government had been secretly negotiating with the Chinese to allow drilling in the Yasuni park.
Ecuador has borrowed more than $9 billion from China since 2007. The South American country plans to export oil to China to help pay off its huge debt.
Environmentalists and Indian rights activists are alarmed.
“We’re on the cusp of a new oil boom in the Ecuadorian Amazon the like of which we have never seen before,” Amazon Watch told the Guardian newspaper.
The Ecuadorean government says the oil drilling platforms will cause little damage.
In 2014, I traveled to Ecuador to learn more about the impact of drilling on the Yasuni and Indians who live in the region.
I am particularly interested in the Huaorani Indians. They drew international attention in 1956 when they killed five American missionaries.
Hundreds of Huaorani still resist contact with outsiders. As oil workers, colonists and others move closer to their territory, tensions are rising – and so is intertribal warfare. At least two dozen people have been killed over the past two years.

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