The Huaorani Protest Against Petroleum Exploitation

(Quito, Ecuador, Nov 9)
By: D. Rothschild & G. Delgado-P.
(The South & Mesoamerican Indian Information Center)

On Tuesday October 27, the people of Quito woke up to a surprise of two hundred Huaorani (an Amazonian Indigenous people) protesting in front of the petroleum company Maxus' building and in the Carolina Park. The Huarani are opposing the construction of a freeway that would cut right through the center of their territory. In a statement made on Wednesday, October 28, the Huoaranis proclaimed that, "Maxus has insisted on constructing a freeway right into the heart of our territory, the same thing that two other oil companies hoped to do before. What is outlined is an ecological and human disaster of enormous proportions: deforestation and new colonization fronts, trafficking of lands and irreversable environmental contamination." At the same time the Huaorani are protesting the exploitation by Maxus (U.S.A.) of Amazon block 16 (Huaorani territory), they are also opposing the works of the companies Elf (France) in block 14, and Petrobrasil (Brazil) in block 17, both of which also cut into their terr.

During their protest the Huaoranis blocked the entrance to the Maxus building, released statements and demanded a meeting with a government representative. The Minister of Energy and Mines, Andres Barreiro released a statement saying he was not open to a political discussion with the Huaorani. Later he reversed his decision and decided to meet with them but then ten minutes before the planned meeting changed his mind again and refused to see them. The president of Ecuador, Sixto Duran Ballen, told the Huaorani he would only see them after they had met with Andres Barreiro.

The Huaoranis have the backing of the Confederation of Indigenous Nations of the Ecuatorian Amazon (CONFENIAE) and the Confederation of Indigenous Nations of Ecuador (CONAIE).

In a public statement, the Huaoranis accused Maxus of bribery and deceit. They accused directly the anthropologist Roxana Fayeta who worked with Maxus to get the Huaoranis to sign agreements. According to the Huaoranis she had them sign papers that they were told benefited the Huaorani, but which in actuality gave away everything to Maxus. Maxus is under the name of Diamond Shamrock Corp., the same company that produced agent orange for the Vietnam war.

Maxus bought the rights to the Amazon block 16 from the company Conoco (U.S.A.). When Conoco was in charge of the block they presented an investment plan that included an ample environmental protection plan without any plans to build a freeway that would affect the territorial integrity of the Huoarani. The Huaorani are prepared to stop the construction of the freeway and have demanded a moratorium on petroleum activity within block 16.

Although the Ecuadorian government did grant the Huaorani people the land titles to 672,000 hectares of land (reducing their land to about half of its previous size), the government did not include in these titles anything underground, i.e. oil.

For most of the Huaoranis who came to Quito, this was their first time out of the Amazon jungle and many were not ready for the cold Quito nights nor the Quito police who made them wear clothes they are not accustomed to. There also was not the abundance of food that they were used to having in their Amazonian surroundings. Food and clothes were gotten for them without a problem, although that first night they all were a bit cold.

The South & Mesoamerican Indian Information Center of Oakland, California, would like to request to the suscribers of these list to distribute this information. If anybody would like to help out, please write about your concerns to the following people. Please include a request for a moratorium on all petroleum exploitation in the jungle by Maxus, and to not build the freeway which would place in danger the survival of the Huaorani people and culture.

Arq. Sixto Duran Ballen
Presidente Constitucional del Ecuador
Garcia Noren~o # 1043
Quito - Ecuador
Fax 593- 2- 515-408

Mr. C.L. Blackburn
Maxus Energy Corporation
717 North Harwood Street
Dallas, Texas 75201, USA
or FAX:214-979-1977

Sr. William Hatton
Responsable Maxus en Ecuador
Amazonas 3655
Ed. Antisana, piso 10
Quito - Ecuador
or FAX: 593-2-580-751

Please send copies to Campan~a Amazonica por la Vida. Fax:593-2-506-617 or CONAIE fax # 593-2-442-271

(Posted to Native-l on 9 Nov 1992 (Guillermo Delgado))