Ecuador President Rafael Correa, in following through on a promise he made four years ago to drill in the United Nations-protected Yasuni National Park, has upset many in Ecuador, and revealed the lawsuit against Chevron to be what this blogger has long said it was: a sham.
President Correa proved this weekend, that his main concern is not for the protection of the Ecuador rainforest, but for the gathering of large amounts of money from whatever source he deems appropriate to the task. Everything Correa has done has led to this, and he arguably used Chevron lead plaintiff’s lawyer Steven Donziger as a tool in this objective along the way.
The Yasuni National Park is a region that’s said to be eight times larger than the City Of Los Angeles. It’s a national park of 18,000 square miles of Ecuador rainforest and is rumored to be the most biologically diverse region in the World. For that primary set of reasons, The Yasuni National Park has been designated as a protected area that’s to be devoid of use for oil production, even though it’s said to have about 20 percent of the country’s oil reserves, or about 800 million barrels of crude oil.
That makes The Yasuni National Park the goose that President Correa thinks can lay golden eggs for Ecuador’s economy, and has had this view for at least over four years. Correa has always wanted to use The Yasuni National Park in this way, but he is too politically savvy to quickly reveal himself as an oil land barron. Doing so early on would have caused him to immediately lose the support of the Amazon Defense Coalition that was formed not to defend the Amazon or The Yasuni National Park, but specifically to collect money for the lawsuit against Chevron, which never drilled in Ecuador to start with.
So, Correa established the Yasuní-ITT Initiative in 2009, and said basically that if international oil companies paid a total of $3.6 billion that was to be raised over 12 years, he would not allow the State-owned PetroEcuador Oil Company to drill there. It was political genius – a head-fake the American envrionmental lobby foolishly bought hook, line, and sinker. Correa bought enough time for himself to help engineer a fraudulent Ecuador court verdict against Chevron for $19 billion, then go around the World trying to collect on that after it was found that Chevron had no assets or operations in Ecuador to ‘bill against.’ That failing, rather than extend the Yasuní-ITT Initiative, Correa elected to kill it.
The Correa Administration loves to try and fool the World. Just as President Correa was working to kill the Yasuní-ITT Initiative, here’s Nathalie Cely, his hand-picked Ambassador of Ecuador to the United States, stating Ecuador’s support for Richmond, California in the totally-unrelated Chevron Fire issue. On August 12th, in the Huffington Post, Ms. Cely wrote as if the Yasuni-ITT Initiative was active:
By implementing a national plan to shift the country’s energy matrix to clean renewable energies, we seek to promote a healthy, sustainable future that protects our people and our land…Part of this national plan is the Yasuní-ITT Initiative, a bold commitment by Ecuador to leave 20 percent of its oil underground — and to prevent the emission of an estimated 1.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide. These 846 million barrels lay underneath Yasuní National Park, located in the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest, one of the most biologically diverse locations on the planet.
She also stated “our government’s position remains unchanged: we are impartial in the (Chevron) case” – something this blogger proved was not the case years ago, in 2010 in the SeattlePI. Ecuador has served a a party to the Chevron Lawsuit since its beginning. For Ambassador Cely to claim that Ecuador is impartial is to advance what is, to be frank with with respect to the Ambassador, an outright fib.
Fibs, or lies, drive Ecuador’s oil production politics, and while it tells lies to keep the World’s environmental lobby at bay, Ecuador’s President Correa seeks to silence non-governmental organizations at home that would seek to offer words of protest by action or words against his initiatives to profit from oil production. In the pursuit of this objective, and other objectives, President Correa has killed the free press, and free speech in Ecuador.
Where is The Amazon Defense Coalition now? What about The Rainforest Action Network?