Around 3,000 people led by 30 mayors of small towns of the Amazon marched yesterday in Quito to support responsible oil exploitation in the Yasuni National Park, located in an area declared as a world biosphere reserve by the United Nations.
“We support the exploitation so that the Government benefits the Amazon, to recover nature, to clean the pollution and above all so to fight poverty in the Amazon. Here we are expressing our voice, we support the development, we support life and biodiversity”, Yofre Poma, Mayor of Lago Agrio, told the demonstrators.
As a result, Correa decided to extract oil in the heart of the Amazon, which opened a debate in the country between those who support the decision and those who reject it.
“The mayors and the population will be present, attentive, so things are done as they have to, protecting the environment in the Yasuní”, said the Mayor of Tena, Washington Varela. Mayors and residents came to the Assembly where they were received by the Commission on biodiversity, responsible for studying and approve or reject the Government’s intention to exploit oil in the Yasuni.
Correa said that the operation will affect only one per thousand of the Yasuni, which has about one million hectares. The Government aims to obtain $ 18 billion during all the time of exploitation of that resource.
Organizations of indigenous peoples, environmentalists, farmers and students, among others, want to force a referendum for the Ecuadorian people to decide if they want the exploitation or maintain the oil in the Yasuni, which must collect and validate about 600,000 signatures.
President Rafael Correa decided in August to reverse the Yasuni initiative, seeking to leave 846 million barrels of oil undergroun in exchange for donations of $3 600 million from the international community, since the initiative collected only 13.3 million dollars in cash in six years.