Sarayaku, April 13, 2002
MINISTER OF ENERGY AND MINES
of our considerations.
The Association of Indigenous Centers of Sarayaku (Pastaza), faced with the worsening of the situation of constant violation of our Collective Rights by the oil companies, particularly the Compañía General de Combustibles SA (Consorcio San Jorge), once again allow ourselves to put in your knowledge our concern and decision regarding this fact.
Sarayaku constitutes one of the historical Kichwa settlements with the highest population concentration and territorial extension in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Our town is organized in an Association of six communities: Shiguakucha, Kali-Kali, Chunta Yaku, Sarayakilu, Centro Sarayaku and Teresa Mama, which together have a population of around one thousand five hundred inhabitants.
As it is known by national and international opinion, for more than a decade Sarayaku has been fighting for the collective rights that assist us as an ancestral people and that are currently recognized by the Ecuadorian Constitution, the most important being the right to maintain our territories. , as a guarantee for the consolidation of our people economically, culturally, socially, politically, environmentally and spiritually through the generations.
That for us means being able to exercise the right to organize freely, to establish the appropriate ways and strategies according to our worldview and our way of relating to the lives of the environment, in the solution of our needs, and in the construction of a desirable life for our families, and above all for our children and future generations.
By virtue of the foregoing and aware of the tragic experience that our sister peoples in the north of the Amazon have lived in the last thirty years, As Sarayaku we have assumed a clearly critical position regarding oil activity. In this context, we have raised in a series of opportunities and events, our firm opposition to our territory becoming the already known scenario of social and cultural disarticulation of our people and the physical and spiritual destruction of our territory.
We proposed this our position in 1989 on the occasion of the incursion of the company Arco Oriente (today AGIP Ecuador), where we signed the "Sarayaku Agreement" with the Ecuadorian State, whose commitments in relation to the hydrocarbon field have not yet been fulfilled. In this same context, we unsuccessfully directed our approach to the government in 1990, to demand legal recognition of our territories, autonomy and the right to make decisions about the management of natural resources. In 1992, in a historic march to the capital (Quito), we obtained the title to our territory, without the government agreeing to discuss the oil activity there.
During the 1990s, through our organization OPIP, we constantly tried to sensitize the State in order to discuss and reach democratic agreement on substantial changes in the oil policy in Pastaza and specifically in the indigenous territories, in order to correct the serious errors and injustices practiced in Sucumbíos, Orellana and Napo without obtaining concrete results. On the contrary, the State, reissuing the old colonialist practices, proceeded with the militarization of Block 10, whose current production is 40,000 barrels per day, without neither the indigenous peoples nor the province being beneficiaries of said exploitation.
In 1996, the Government, through the Ministry of Energy and Mines and Petroecuador, established a contract with the Compañía General de Combustibles SA (Consorcio CGC San Jorge) of the Republic of Argentina, to develop oil exploration and exploitation activities in Block 23 located in traditional territories of the Indigenous Peoples of the Province of Pastaza. On this occasion there was also not a single gesture of respect for the original inhabitants of the territories involved, since there was not the slightest willingness to inform, much less to consult or consider our points of view as directly affected by this project.
Block 23 affects 200,000 hectares of primary forest in the historical territories of indigenous peoples, 85 % of this area is Kichwa territory, most of it being the Sarayaku territory that appears in the center of block 23. The other affected territories are: Achuar in a 10 % and Shuar in a 5 %.
In the last six years, business ambition added to the consent of the State and its institutions, have led to the establishment in our territories of a regime of insecurity, and of growing aggression of our rights where the same Constitution of 1998 (which recognizes Rights Collectives) is mocked.
In this context, Sarayaku has been the victim of permanent racist harassment and aggression by the company CGC and its "community relations" consultant DAIMY SERVICE SA Who, with the aim of convincing the inhabitants of Sarayaku and other communities of the Bobonaza River basin about the alleged benefits of oil exploitation, they are executing perverse methods that consist of: convincing members of the communities via bribery, mock consultations with the communities, demagogic offers of a total solution to their needs, campaigns of misinformation to promote confusion and conflicts and ruptures in families and division of communities, among other tricks perfected in three decades of plundering indigenous territories. These actions are being carried out by the CGC company despite the fact that on a number of occasions it has made a commitment to respect the will of the Sarayaku Association.
These facts harm our right to live in peace. They contravene principles postulated in the Constitution and in ILO Convention 169, among other legal instruments. For this reason, we denounce that in Pastaza and in our territory of Sarayaku in particular, the oil companies are executing an institutional strategy aimed at dismantling the fundamental bases and structures of Kichwa society and culture, with the aim of occupying our territory and exploiting oil by controlling any factor of conflict that may affect their private interests.
We are deeply concerned about the existence of this ethnocidal plan, whose explicit actions have intensified in recent days, with the imminent start of the exploration and drilling phase. We are also concerned that, despite our constant complaints, the provincial and national authorities remain totally indifferent to the escalation of the aggression that indigenous communities are experiencing by private multinational oil companies.
Given this fact, the Sarayaku Association makes its decision known:
1. We declare a State of Emergency throughout the ancestral territory of Sarayaku, in order to fight with all the means that our status as ancestral people and the current national and international legal instruments empower us.
2. We propose to the authorities of the Ministry of Energy and Mines and Petroecuador the immediate suspension of activities carried out directly and indirectly by the CGC Company and DAYMI SERVICES S:A: and their immediate departure from the Kichwa territory of Sarayaku.
3. Hold the Ministry of Energy and Mines, Petroecuador and CGC responsible for any conflict or unfortunate situations that occur from this date both to members of indigenous communities and elements foreign to our territories.
4. We defend our right to freely choose the most appropriate economic model for our identity and systems of management and relationship with our territory.
5. The People of Sarayacu and the grassroots communities are willing to fight and enforce respect for our rights within our Indigenous Territorial Circumscription (CTI) and its autonomous nature.
6. We strongly oppose the intended call for the Ninth Round of Petroleum Tenders, because in addition to being without consultation, it disturbs the existence and harmonious development of the indigenous peoples and compromises the Territorial Circumscriptions of all the Nationalities and Indigenous Peoples of Pastaza.
Confident of your attention to our concern and respect for our communities, I subscribe to you.
PRESIDENT OF PETRO ECUADOR. Ing. Rodolfo Barniol
UNDERSECRETARY OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION. attorney Ivan Narvaez
MINISTER OF THE ENVIRONMENT. Dr. Lourdes Luque
CGC MANAGER. Eng. Ricardo Nicholas
DAIMI SERVICE MANAGER. SA Dr. Milton Ortega
PRESIDENT OF THE CONAIE. Mr Leonidas Isa
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