KIM RUSTEM, U-M Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies
On August 15, 2013 Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa declared that he would pursue his original plan to drill oil in the ITT Block of the Yasuní National Park in order to spur economic growth and fight poverty in the country. This was after declaring that the Yasuní-ITT Initiative had failed, an initiative led by his Administration to raise $3.6 billion, or half of the suggested value of the oil reserves, from the International Community in exchange for leaving the block untouched. National and international civil society groups, including indigenous, environmental, human rights, and local business groups, have mobilized to protect the Yasuní-ITT and its people from drilling and have launched a petition to call for a National Referendum on the issue. One of these groups and leader of the petition is Acción Ecológica, an environmental justice organization based in Ecuador who believe that drilling in the Yasuní will be a direct infringement on the human rights of indigenous people and rural people living in the region. This presentation will explore the environmental justice concerns of drilling in he Yasuní, as presented by Acción Ecológica, and will provide an analysis of the organization’s capacity, Ecuador’s political environment, and political opportunity structures for developing a political strategy to stop drilling in the Yasuní-ITT.