Stop Ecuador Government's interference In Zapara self-government and resource decisions!

  • by: Kerin Gould
  • recipient: President Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador and Wilson Pastor Morris, Ministro de Recursos Naturales No Renovables

The Zapara tribe is being pressured by government to allow oil drilling on their land. While Zapara community members resist, some non-Zapara living in their territory would sell the rights. They are also being pressured to accept carbon credit trading. Unless this interference is stopped, oil drilling will go ahead and  the contamination the Zapara already experience from adjacent blocks will come to their territory to sicken the people and the land in spite of their objections. The outspoken leader of the Zapara Women's Association has received death threats and assaults for her brave stand against resource exploitation. She will be meeting with the oil ministry next week and needs our support. Please read and sign on to the letter below:

Dear Señor Presidente Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador

We the undersigned organizations and individuals respectfully write to you in order to call attention to, condemn and, request your urgent action to right the following actions that are currently violating the Indigenous Rights and threatening the environment of the Zápara People of Ecuador:

It has been brought to our attention that members of Ecuador’s Ministry of Non-renewable Energy and Hidrocarburo are interfering with the properly elected Zápara government by helping outgoing officials remain in the Zápara government offices while keeping the recently elected officials from taking their proper offices. During this falsely maintained extension of the past tribal government, the outgoing president has signed an agreement with Hidrocarburo (the government's oil development agency) after his exit date, when he no longer had any authority to do so. Apparently, these government officials are also giving the outgoing Zápara officials food so that they can continue to occupy the offices. It seems that the outgoing president has also received financial support to visit Zápara communities to argue in favor of accepting oil extraction in their land. Women’s leaders and the new government officials and others have asked the Secretary to leave their territory and have stated that they want no part of oil industry on their land. No part of the Ecuador government should be interfering in the democratic and decision-making processes of the tribe, as this is a gross violation of their rights as an Indigenous people

Government agents are also unduly influencing the Zápara people’s decisions regarding their natural resources and the integrity of their land and territory by disseminating false information regarding oil drilling and carbon credit trading, misrepresenting the amounts of money each person will get from oil and denying the risks to the Zápara people and environment through contamination, which they are already experiencing from adjacent blocks.

Agents are violating the rights of the Zápara to Free, Prior, and Informed Consent not only by spreading misinformation but also through counting non-Zápara people as participants in consultations, which unsurprisingly resulted in agreement with the Hidrocarburo projects.

In addition, the maneuvering of the government representatives is creating an environment of fear, distrust, and conflict that interferes with the Zápara People’s self-determination and self-governance.

We respectfully request that you withdraw any police or military presence as well as any representatives of Hidrocarburos while the Zápara People establish their newly elected governing bodies and make their independent decisions about their resources and that their Free, Prior and Informed Consent be respected and fully observed.

We (undersigned) will monitor, publicize, follow-up with legal support, and make statements to UNHRC on behalf of the legitimate government of the Zápara People. We will keep in contact with tribal leaders, and their safety and well-being will be a reflection of Ecuador’s sincerity as a signer of the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People and of Ecuador’s respect for human rights and the rights of Mother Earth.

We appreciate your consideration of this issue and look forward to your response,

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