From EF! Newswire
Indigenous leaders from the Ecuadorian Amazon and their allies from the Gulf Coast and Canada, including Amazon Watch, Gulf Coast Idle No More, and Tar Sands Blockade, confronted the Ecuadorian government in Houston as it met with oil company executives and investors to auction off a vast swath of pristine tropical rainforest. While Jaime Vargas, president of the Achuar Nationality of Ecuador, and Narcisa Mashienta, a community leader from the Shuar Nationality of Ecuador, attempted to intercept potential investors as they went inside to meet with representatives of the Ecuadorian government, allies rallied outside the Westin Oaks Hotel, holding banners that read “Life is Not Negotiable” and “Solidarity in Struggle”.
The oil tender, known as the XI Round, or Ronda Sur Oriente, was met with major protests when launched on November 27th in Quito. The XI Round is comprised of 21 oil blocks–some 10 million acres–of pristine, roadless rainforest that is the titled territory of seven indigenous nationalities. Several companies, including ARCO, ConocoPhillips, Burlington Resources, and CGC (Compania General de Combustibles) attempted to drill in the controversial area but were forced to pull out due to indigenous opposition. Companies have until May 2013 to bid on the blocks.
Mr. Vargas and Ms. Mashienta will be in Houston until Thursday attending the NAPE (North America Prospect Expo) conference and speaking to companies and investors about the major opposition and uphill battle any potential bidder would face in pursuing drilling activities.
“As indigenous women, we are mothers, fighters, nurturers of the natural world. We can feel when the earth can no longer reproduce. We are part of the life of the jungle and defenders of the life within it.”