By Jonas Seufert
The room is full to the last seat as Alberto Acosta enters the stage. At the wall, people sit on the floor, another row was improvised directly in front of the stage. Around 250 have come to the ‘Hygiene-Museum’ in Dresden in order to learn about the Buen Vivir by one of its best-known political representatives.
‘Grupo Sal’ is in charge of the framework program for the night, a band made up predominantly by Latin American musicians, who accompany the 20-minute- inputs by Alberto Acosta with music from different regions of Latin America. Indigenous melodies from Bolivia are part of the program as well as afro-peruvian chansons and salsa rhythms from Cuba. ‘Grupo Sal’ want to convey an impression of the cultural influences on Latin America. These come from the continent itself but also from Europe and Africa due to the age-long yoke of colonialism.
Colonialism is Acostas topic as well. The concept of the ‘Good Life’ has its roots in the indigenous world-view of the Andes. Its peoples suffer from the Western model of development until today. The fundament was laid during the colonisation of the continent. Today, the extractivism continues as the mantra of consumption requires steady production and innovation. This is how economic growth is generated, under the precondition of natural depletion and the isolation of the individual in a society of competition.
Buen Vivir, however, is the refusal to that model of development. Harmony with humans and the nature are central values. The human being is more than a simple consumer, he/she is a social being and shapes society. Also, he/she is part of a natural equilibrium and not designated to shape nature according to his/her will.
The Yasuni-ITT- Initiative was supposed to be an expression of these ideas which are included into the Ecuadorian constitution. Contrary to the logic of the markets, the government of Ecuador offered to keep the oil in the national park under the soil in order to protect its biodiversity and the indigenous groups living there. In return they asked the international community for solidarity in the form of a fund. The project failed, also because the former German minister of development, Dirk Niebel, held back money from Germany.
Committed Ecuadorians did not want to put up with this and collected signatures in order to call for a referendum on the oil. The Yasunidos reached the quorum but the government declared the majority of sigantures invalid and applied repressive measures on the organization. Now, the group is organizing an independent referendum to put further pressure on the government and receives solidarity from all over the world.
From Dresden as well, where a small Yasunidos group has formed. They have organized this evening and explain the necessity of solidarity action, also from Germany. In the break, donations baskets are passed around, a foto of solidarity is taken outside. ‘Keep the oil in the oil’, one can read on the banners and ‘we are all Yasunidos’. This is also Acosta’s view: „we as society of human beings have to decide how we want to live together. When will we succeed in changing the world?”
YASunidos is one of the nominees for The Human Rights Tulip! The Human Rights Tulip is an annual award of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs for individuals or organisations that promote human rights worldwide in innovative ways. The prize worth is €100.000!! To win this prize we need YOUR VOTE in an online poll. To the online voting
The prize money could be used perfectly to further expand and deepen the YASunidos campaign to save the Yasuní and protect the rights of the indigenious peoples in the Yasuní, whose existence is acutely threatened by the oil exploitation!
Members of the public can vote from Monday 29th September 2014 until Friday 10th October 2014.
The Yasuní is a wordlwide symbol – if we archieve to avoid the oil exploitation in the Yasuní-ITT, we are one step further toward a post-oil society in Ecuador and beyond!
It’s very easy: PLEASE VOTE HERE FOR YASUNIDOS! Thank you so much!
The procedure after the online poll: An esteemed international independent jury will consider the three leading candidates from the online poll as well as three ‘wild card’ candidates from organisations with a smaller public network. The jury will advise the Netherlands Minister of Foreign Affairs, who will then choose the winner. The prize will be presented to the winner in a public ceremony in The Hague on 9th December.
More information at http://www.humanrightstulip.nl/
YASunidos, a youth movement, gathered 750,000 signatures to support the proposal of leaving oil underground in Ecuador’s National Park Yasuni.
Our aim: Saving indigenous peoples and nature as well as fight peacefully for a post-oil society in Ecuador and beyond!
Youth in Protection of Biodiversity and Indigenous Peoples
We want to protect one of the most biodiverse areas in the world that is also the home of indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation along the banks of the Yasuni River.
For this purpose, we strive to stop oil exploitation in the area, avoid oil contamination, contribute to stop climate change and save the indigenous people. Our activities have led to 60% of the population of Ecuador being opposed to the oil extraction. Nevertheless, the government continues to push through with its plans and tries to criminalize the youth movement.
YASunidos is one of the most organized youth groups in Ecuador. In spite of the mockery, persecution, threats and insults from the authorities they continue their battle to defend Yasuni and its people against oil activities.
For the first time in Ecuador, YASunidos put effectively Amazon’s defense and the need of a popular consultation to decide Ecuador’s destiny on the front pages of the news and other media. YASunidos are working to build new ways of democracy, defending the rights of indigenous people and nature, supporting local communities impacted by oil companies and building alliances with the popular ecologists’ movements.
By gathering 750.000 signatures, we opened a national debate on what future does Ecuador want, not as a vertical decision but as a communal process, building democracy from the bottom up.
Ethics Tribunal: Ecuador Violated Rights Tribunal marked one-year anniversary of decision to drill Yasuní
On Friday the Rights of Nature Ethics Tribunal ruled that in the Ecuadorian government’s ongoing push to drill Yasuní-ITT, one of the most biodiverse and culturally sensitive areas on the planet, the state violated several articles of its own constitution. Those include the rights of nature, the rights of indigenous communities living in voluntary isolation, the right to effective judicial protection and legal certainty, and the right to political participation.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 15, 2014
Adam Zuckerman, 207.838.5806, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ethics Tribunal: Ecuador Violated Rights
Tribunal marked one-year anniversary of decision to drill Yasuní
Quito, Ecuador – On Friday the Rights of Nature Ethics Tribunal ruled that in the Ecuadorian government’s ongoing push to drill Yasuní-ITT, one of the most biodiverse and culturally sensitive areas on the planet, the state violated several articles of its own constitution. Those include the rights of nature, the rights of indigenous communities living in voluntary isolation, the right to effective judicial protection and legal certainty, and the right to political participation.
The Tribunal is composed of environmental justice experts from Colombia, the Philippines, Canada, the United States, and Ecuador. It hears cases of alleged violations of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, and, for Ecuadorian cases, of the Ecuadorian Constitution. One year ago Friday, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa approved drilling of the ITT fields, effectively abandoning a previous proposal known as the Yasuní-ITT Initiative that sought to keep crude in the ground in exchange for international financial contributions.
The Tribunal ruled that by authorizing drilling in Yasuní National Park’s ITT block and block 31, the government violated Article 57 of the Ecuadorian Constitution, which qualifies extractive activity in areas where there are communities living in voluntary isolation as ethnocide. The judges also ruled that by approving drilling in Yasuní, the government violated the much-publicized Rights of Nature clause.
After President Correa’s decision to green-light drilling, thousands of youth organized under the name Yasunidos, mobilized to force a popular referendum on this issue. In the face of government repression, they collected over 750,000 signatures – 172,000 more than the required amount. However, in a process that was plagued with corruption, the National Electoral Commission proceeded to arbitrarily discard over half of the signatures, thus leaving Yasunidos with fewer than the required 584,000 names. An independent academic study confirmed that Yasunidos far surpassed the signature threshold. On Friday the Tribunal confirmed that by arbitrarily discarding hundreds of thousands of signatures, the National Electoral Commission violated Ecuadorians’ right to political participation.
Yasunidos is currently monitoring the activity of oil companies in Ecuador. This includes state oil company Petroamazonas’ “top-notch technology” claimed to be of use in Yasuní’s block 31. Petroamazonas intends to use similarly questionable equipment to drill in Yasuní-ITT. Minister of the Environment Lorena Tapia, is currently investigating the company for a massive oil spill in July of this year, but in May she gave Petroamazonas the green-light to drill in ITT and continues to remain silent about the road in block 31. The Ecuadorian Constitution defines operations in blocks 31 and ITT as “ethnocide” because they are home to Ecuador’s last communities living in voluntary isolation.
In September of this year, representatives from Yasunidos will travel to the UN Climate Summit in New York City in order to participate in the People’s Climate March, the largest climate action in world history, and to educate a global audience about the threat of oil drilling in the Ecuadorian Amazon. They will join forces with movements around the globe that are fighting to keep the oil in the ground.
A member of the upcoming Yasunidos delegation to New York, Leonardo Cerda, says that “Petroamazonas’ record shows that its ‘top-notch technology’ is far from operating according to its own established standards of environmental quality and social responsibility. Transitioning away from a dependence on petroleum is an unquestionable duty to Ecuador’s citizenry and its environment, as well as a concrete demonstration of sensitivity to the victims of 40 years of dirty oil operations in the Northern Ecuadorian Amazon.”
The Tribunal, which held its inaugural session in January 2014, is a permanent platform for hearing and judging violations of the rights of nature from around the world.
The military and Ecuadorian armed forces prevented YASunidos from visiting and investigating the magnitude of impact of the road in Block 31.
Geographers and scientists used satellite photographs to show that in various areas the road’s right-of-way may exceed 60 meters and we, YASunidos, decided to verify this finding. Equipped with bicycles, a video of the invitation from Vice President Glas expressed in a July 5th “Citizen Outreach” address, a small measuring tape that the vice-president sent to us and other more technical equipment, we began our trip to Yasuní on the night of Thursday, July 17th.
On Friday, our attempt to enter the road was stymied by personnel from the state-run oil company Petroamazonas, military officials and marines. All were armed with high caliber weapons. These individuals impeded us from passing along Río Tiputini to the road’s start, forced us to remain in Nuevo Rocafuerte and even tried to prevent us from returning to Coca.
After waiting for various hours, we were “escorted by military personnel” back to Coca on July 19th. In spite of this escort, we briefly disembarked at the port of Chiroisla to attempt to bicycle toward block 31 and the road in question. Armed security guards and military personnel did not allow us to pass despite showing Vice-President Glas’ invitation. This statement, despite trying to disqualify our claims, was in the end an invitation that we responsibly accepted.
Various questions remain:
- Why were we prevented from visiting the ironically named new roadway (“ecological pathway”) that cuts through Yasuní National Park like a “sharp weapon”?
- Do the Vice-President’s words have little value in petroleum extraction areas and, more specifically, in Yasuní?
- Why is it necessary to hide the activities in this highly sensitive area with so much zeal and militarization? What information or type of work is occurring?
- Where are Ecuadorian citizens’ rights to free circulation, to calmly move through Ecuadorian territory without harassment and pursuit by the high-speed boats of the national armed forces? Who bears the costs that this type of operation represents?
The way to solve problems is not to hide them and mistreat those who attempt to expose them. The way is through dialogue, verification, and the correction of mistakes.
This country, after four decades of petroleum production, widely recognizes and understands the consequences and disasters generated by this extractive activity and it is our responsibility to expose these impacts and protect the legacy that we will leave for the next generations.
We will not exchange the future of an Amazonian rich in natural and cultural diversity for a tragic destiny of hardship and contamination. We will not permit history to repeat itself.
A community that doesn’t learn from its history will be condemned to repeat it. A government that lags behind will be held accountable for its role in the debacle.
A group of academics from the National Polytechnic School and the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar, based on a random sample, determined that the figures presented by the National Electoral Council as valid records submitted by the collective YASunidos differ ‘significantly’ after statistical analysis.
YASunidos presented according to the analysis, about 673,862 signatures, and then a random sample of 2,508 Forms Line (20,064 signatures), it was determined that A TOTAL OF 667,334 ARE VALID, with a margin of sampling error of only 0.76%.
Enrique Mafla, polytechnic teacher, clarified that the signature verification was performed using the electoral roll of 2014, and it had a team of twelve people who were delayed ten days to process the information.
He said that according to electoral roll wich crossed the information that several names do exist, for example four citizens who are named Batman, and other Jhon Guey and about 30 people with the name of Superman. So Mafla added, the name of the people should not be a criterion to disqualify his will to support or not to a citizen initiative.
Paul Duke, dean of the Faculty of Geology, said that in total there were 10,770 duplicate names, which means a percentage of 1.26% of signatures submitted, and were not considered in the sampling performed.
If the CNE had not taken into account the procedures for verification of the signatures, the group had spent YASunidos the number of signatures required to hold a referendum, Duque said, adding that ‘ the will expressed by those who signed is clearly indicated, in this case 673,862 signatures that exceed the number required for the query ‘.
Claudia Storini, professor in law at the Universidad Andina, said that the formalities established by the CNE were left out many signatures.
She stated that the CNE was applied formalities that are not critical to determining the purpose, in this case the referendum. She said it is true that the CNE can put the essential requirements, but if a person makes a mistake and put the name instead of the family name or conversely, that’s a formulidad that can not be stronger to the will of a citizen to be consulted.
Aktuelle Petition: Für die Einhaltung verfassungsmäßiger Rechte indigener Gemeinschaften und demokratische Mitbestimmung
Sehr geehrter Herr Präsident der Republik Ecuador, Rafael Correa Delgado!
Mit großer Aufmerksamkeit wurde die Politik Ecuadors in den letzten Jahren von Europa aus verfolgt. Besonders die innovative Yasuní-ITT Initiative fand in der Bevölkerung breite Unterstützung und Zustimmung. Unter anderem wurde dieses Vorhaben vom Europäischen Klimabündnis unterstützt: Im April 2010 sprachen sich über 1700 Klimabündnis-Städte und Gemeinden in 24 europäischen Ländern für die Initiative aus. Das Klimabündnis forderte die Europäische Union auf, die dafür notwendigen finanziellen Mittel zur Verfügung zu stellen. Klimabündnis-Städte und -Gemeinden verpflichteten sich, alle fünf Jahre den CO2-Ausstoß um 10% zu senken.
Die Initiative Yasuní-ITT erscheint uns von grundlegender Bedeutung für eine gerechtere und fairere Gesellschaft, die sich ihrer sozialen und ökologischen Verantwortung stellt. Ihr Scheitern ist für uns, wie für viele andere Menschen weltweit und sicherlich auch für Sie und die Mehrheit der EcuadorianerInnen, ein schwerer Rückschlag für die Zukunftsperspektiven unserer Erde.
Obwohl wir uns der wirtschaftlichen Notlage Ecuadors bewusst sind, betrachten wir die Regierungsentscheidung zur Erdölförderung und deren mögliche negative Auswirkungen auf den Klimawandel, die Biodiversität und die Süßwasservorkommen unseres Planeten, mit großer Sorge. Darüber hinaus sehen wir das Überleben der in Abgeschiedenheit lebenden indigenen Gemeinschaften im Yasuní massiv gefährdet. Eine Verkleinerung und Verschmutzung ihres Lebensraumes würde ihre Lebensgrundlage beschneiden. Die Wahrscheinlichkeit eines erzwungenen Kontakts zu höchst nachteiligen Bedingungen steigt, in der Folge drohen große Schutzlosigkeit und Verarmung, wie wir sie bereits von anderen Waorani- Familienclans kennen.
Aus diesen Gründen möchten wir Ihre Regierung dazu aufrufen:
- die Rechte der Gemeinschaften der Waorani und Kichwa und ihr Recht auf eine freie, vorherige und informierte Konsultation (Art. 57/7 der Verfassung) zu respektieren, ebenso die Rechte der Tagaeri-Taromenane, der in Abgeschiedenheit im Yasuní lebenden Indigenen, insbesondere ihr Recht auf ein Territorium (Art. 57/21).
- eine Volksabstimmung abzuhalten (Art. 104). Diese wird von der Mehrheit der Bevölkerung Ihres Landes befürwortet, letzten Umfragen zufolge von 72 %.
- ein unabhängiges Umweltgutachten über die schwerwiegenden ökologischen und sozialen Auswirkungen einzuholen, die durch die Erdölförderung im heute als Yasuní bekannten Gebiet bisher hervorgerufen wurden.
Unabhängig vom Ausgang der Volksabstimmung muss der Wahrung der Menschenrechte indigener Gemeinschaften, wie in der Verfassung Ihres Landes und in internationalen Abkommen verankert, Vorrang gegenüber jedweder von einem Staat getroffenen Entscheidung gegeben werden.
Abschließend möchten wir unsere moralische Unterstützung und Solidarität gegenüber dem Kollektiv Yasunidos, seinen Mitliedern und Teilorganisationen, betonen: NGOs stellen eine rechtmäßige Form der demokratischen Meinungsäußerung einer Zivilgesellschaft dar.