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.