Home / Environmental News / Ecuadorian Natives Detain Govt Troops as State Attempts to Give Their Land Away to Big Oil

Ecuadorian Natives Detain Govt Troops as State Attempts to Give Their Land Away to Big Oil


A bold action by indigenous peoples in Ecuador is providing a stark contrast to the situation of Native Americans over the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The Kichwa de Sarayaku indigenous group has detained 11 government soldiers who were traveling through their territory in northeast Ecuador. The soldiers were going by canoe along the Bobonaza River, were not on duty and had not asked permission to enter the territory, according to the Kichwa.

For security reasons we have been obligated to isolate them to consult them about their purpose and where they were headed. Sarayaku guarantees their Human Rights,” a Kichwa statement read. Pictures of the soldiers sitting on benches inside a camp were also posted.

The detainment comes as tensions flare once again over government-enabled corporate exploitation of native lands.

A Chinese mining site was attacked by another indigenous group, the Shuar, who say the mine encroaches on their territory. This prompted the government of Rafael Correa to declare a state of emergency, which the Kichwa say “threatens the existence, peace and liberty of indigenous peoples.”

In August, indigenous protesters briefly detained 27 soldiers and demanded the release of dozens of demonstrators who had been arrested. The protests reflect growing anger among indigenous Ecuadorians who say the government won’t allow them more control over land and water resources.

The protesters have every reason to be concerned.

The Kichwa de Sarayuka endured a 17-year struggle to defend their land from attempts by corporations and the Ecuadorian government to drill for oil. Since 1960, oil activity has had notoriously damaging effects on the environment and resources of indigenous peoples in Ecuador.

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The Kichwa fended off several illegal moves and bribery attempts by an Argentinean oil company, as well as attacks on camps by government forces using tear gas.

The Inter American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) found that Ecuador had violated its duty to consult with the Kichwa before signing contracts for mineral extraction.

“From May 2003 to early 2006, the CIDH tried to implement court injunctions and urge expanded measures including removal of explosives, facilities and machinery from the Sarayaku community.

The Ecuadorian government failed to comply.”

Instead, the government raided a Kichwa community and arrested five members they claimed were terrorists. This, despite that fact that the entire resistance had always been peaceful. In 2009, Ecuador allowed the oil company to resume operations on indigenous land.

Resistance only grew, and with the help of social media gained the attention it needed.

“On 25 July 2012, the Court found that the Ecuadorian State failed to consult with the Sarayaku community prior to signing a contract with CGC, in accordance to international regulations. Further, the government was found responsible for human rights violations and failure to protect the people of Sarayaku whose lives were at risk during CGC operations.

The Sarayaku community’s campaign against CGC and the State of Ecuador is considered a milestone: a victory for the human rights movements for indigenous people of Ecuador, after 17 years.

If some elements of this story sound familiar, they should.

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in North Dakota is being built to enrich oil investors, with the unflinching support of armed government agents from multiple states. The “contract” or permit was given to Energy Transfer Partners in violation of long-held treaties with the Standing Rock Sioux.

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Sacred sites and burial grounds have already been destroyed by the oil company, and the pipeline is planned to be installed under Lake Oahe, threatening the water source of the Standing Rock Sioux.

Militarized cops have used tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets, LRADs and other riot gear to crack down on the massive protests that have taken place to resist DAPL. Protesters have set up camps, as the Kichwa did in Ecuador, for a more permanent presence.

But in the corporate oligarchy of the U.S., even the enormity of the protests are not enough to stop fossil fuel interests from getting their way. As we reported on Dec. 6, DAPL is not even necessary for transporting oil from the Bakken fields, as 60% of existing transportation infrastructure is underutilized and production is steadily declining.

DAPL is just a high-risk investment by oil barons, and the rights of Native Americans – as well as the rights of other landowners who’ve had their land taken for the project through eminent domain – mean nothing to the corporatocracy.

States and local government are eager to begin receiving their millions in taxes once the oil begins flowing. After all, they have to be paid back for the millions they are shelling out to act as militarized protection services for the company behind DAPL.

  • Sad, I thought after Ecquador enshrined into its constitution the rights of nature (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rights_of_Nature) that this country was going to lead the way into the future. This story saddens me.

  • billdeserthills

    The hell with these elitist oil baron scum, I’m tired of hearing that rich scum are trying to steer my life and others around
    It is past time for the citizens to take the wealth from elitist scum who cannot refrain from stepping in and around Our lives

    • Steve Rusk

      It’s not just the “Oil Barons” doing this and it’s not only going on in other countries, they built a wind farm around my property here in America and it lost 80% of it’s value. Complaints, resistance, even evidence was futile, we were not compensated. Take a look: 10038 Elm Sugar Rd. Scott, Ohio 45891

      • billdeserthills

        Elites are getting too brave, they need to be smacked down

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      • billdeserthills

        Ever try a law firm that works on contingency?
        Sounds like whoever screwed you has made some enemies,
        a private eye could maybe help you find them. New friends can mebbe help cheer you up a lil’

        • Steve Rusk

          There are attorneys looking into it, however it’s like with big oil you’re also fighting the government, federal, state and everything else right down to the local level.

          This is how wind power operates, they use all the loop holes.

          • billdeserthills

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            lawyers want to do legal things, and a good p.i. can come up with better
            ideas sometimes

          • Steve Rusk

            It’s nice when you have the money, however the wind farm incident left me financially ruined. I was able to demonstrate there is damage to property values, however the locals here are sweeping it under the rug. They want the money the wind farm brings to local government, they’re even planning a second one here.

            There are people all over the world fighting these wind farms, we’re not doing so well anywhere, governments all over the world protect these operations. Here is a link to a time line that shows the industry knew from the beginning that the operation of wind turbines caused infrasound related health problems and complaints. There is a lot to this and it is very complex, these were developed by NASA, it is not something for the faint of heart. Examine the time line.