(D. Rothschild, correspondent
G. Delgado-P. The South & Mesoamerican Indian Information Center, Oakland: saiic@igc.apc.org)

Quote from Rick Bass, Petroleum Geologist, 1989
"I want to stamp on the ground hard enough to make that oil come out. I want to skip legalities, permits, red tape, and other obstacles. I want to go immediately and straight to what matters: getting that oil."

Huaorani chant, translated by Laura Rival: "Look at the land. Our Grandfather lived here. So do we. It is our land here, here we used to live. Stranger, touring around you will not come. We lived over these hills, we still do, because the forest is our life."

(DEC 13, 92), Quito, Ecuador, SAIIC

REF: On the Huaorani and the oil company Maxus who wants to build a freeway through the Huaorani territory to exploit oil reserves:

Ecological impacts of the new proposed freeway:

The freeway will cross 150 kilometers of old growth tropical rainforest (bosque primario) producing deforestation in all of this area, and if they open trails along it it will generate even more deforestation. Even greater deforestation will occur because of the great value of the wood from the trees. The workers will gain the right to sell the wood up to 60 meters to the side of the road and their will be no way to control what or how much they take and sell.

The construction of the freeway will also cause irreversable sedimentation, erosion, and pollution. The movement during the construction will cause great sedimentation that along with the force of the tropical rains could be devastating to the region damaging the entire ecosistem throught the streams and rivers. It will also provoke irreversable changes in the morphology and topography of the area. The machines used will also be releasing a large amount of pollutants in this previously untouched area.

As a consequence of the deforestation there will be a great loss of plant species of low population density which could lead to the extinction of some species. The deforestation will also have a very strong impact on animals of prey in the area which need extensive areas to hunt. An example of this is the shrew eagle which is a sacred bird that lives year to year in the same tree. Also the sounds of construction will scare away the wildlife of the area.

The colonization of area after the construction of the highway is inevitable because there is no way to efectively control it. Under the document, "Terminos de referencia para la construccion de puentes y caminos," all freeways are public and free for transit. Even if the management plan included control sites to control colonization as is planned, there is no way to control the colonizers during the construction. Construction of other highways in the Amazon has shown this in the past. Other areas of the Amazon have shown that the military is the principle colonizer, and the military is who is proposed to control the colonization if the highway is built.

Even if the proposed military control of the highway succeeds to deter colonists, once Maxus leaves there is no guarantee that the military control will continue.

The topsoils along the sides of the proposed highway are of clay, with low fertility and with toxic aluminum. This is according to the "Mapa Morfo-Edafologico de la Provincia de Napo." It is recommended to protect the area because with the introduction of colonization the topsoil will lose all of its plant cover and the area will become desert. Similar things have happened in the zone of Cuyabeno, where the topsoil is even better than in the Block 16.

Socio-Cultural Impacts:

With the coming of colonists there will be a series of confrontations between the colonists and the Huaorani people, which could be considered a form of ethnocide. The presence of the colonists and the oil company will produce changes in the cultural patterns of the Huaorani. The loss of wildlife in the area will produce great changes in the eating habits of the Huaorani (for the Huaorani, all elements of the jungle have value). Also, the sacred sites of the Huaorani will be disturbed and possibly destroyed. Sicknesses unbeknown to the Huaorani will be introduced by the new colonizers and workers.

With the proposed solution that the highway be militarized, the Huaorani will have to live in a militarized area and always carry identification cards with them. Also the oil company will have control of the area.

If this area follows the example of what occurred in other regions, the Huaorani people run the threat of extinction.

UPDATE on the Huaorani

A quick update that we got at a meeting Friday-Saturday 12, 13, Dec 92. The Ecuadorian governemnt approved the highway into the Huaorani territory and construction suppposedly has begun. OPIP is planning nonviolent protests for when they reach Huaorani territory, but that won't be for quite a while yet. They say they have 2000 people ready to sit in front of the bulldozers and other machines. At the moment the national congress is looking at the opcion of a moratorium on all activity petrolero in bloque 16. This means that the congress needs lots of pressure right now!!

Send Faxes and whatever you can. Stress the fact that the petroleum in that area isnt even very profitable too. The petroleum in that area is really of a very low quality.

Arq. Sixto Duran Ballen
Fax # 593-2-515-408

Mr. C.L. Blackburn
Maxux Energy Corporation
Fax 214-979-1977

Mr. William Hatton
Fax 593-2-580-751

Campan~a Amazonica por la Vida Fax 593-2-506-617
CONAIE 593-2-442-271 (All International calls need International Dialing Code 011 or others, make sure you get it).

(Posted to Native-l on 14 Dec 1992 guiller@cats.ucsc.edu (Guillermo Delgado))