Ecuadorian activists under threat. Support needed now

May 30, 2001

The Ecuadorian Government has approved a bid from a consortium called OCP for the construction of a pipeline that will cross the country from East to West, seriously affecting extremely fragile areas and regions of great agricultural importance for the country.

This is a pipeline for the transportation of poor quality heavy crude. Its will be 500 kilometres long, and cut across the three ecological regions that make up the country of Ecuador.

The majority of the transported crude will come from the Yasuní National Park, from the last petroleum block that has not yet been allocated to the petroleum industry; therefore, it constitutes the last pristine corner of the most important National Park in Continental Ecuador, which is in turn the home of the Huaorani tribe.

Additionally, it will expand the petroleum frontier in the Amazon forests in South Ecuador an area that has, until now, had little impact from this industry - this includes the territories of the Quichua, Shuar and Achuar people.

OCP Ecuador is a partnership formed by AGIP (Italy), Alberta Energy (Canada), Kerr Mc Gee and Occidental (USA), Repsol/YPF (Spain), Perez Companc and Techint (Argentina). The construction company will be the Techint, which has an appalling environmental history.

The announcement of the pipeline was greeted with opposition by environmental groups, and the government's reaction - which is usually very slow to react to the Ecuadorian peoples' demands - has been extremely swift, but in such a way which will protect this project against its opponents. President Gustavo Noboa himself, publicly threatened Accion Ecologica (Friends of the Earth-Ecuador) during a press conference held on May 17 in the coastal city of Guayaquil. He accused the organisation of being hypocritical and said: "In the past we knew who they were; we knew they were the radical left; now they call themselves greens, ecologists..."

He shouted that he would declare war on the ecologists, that he would fight them "trench by trench" and that he would not allow "four clowns to fuck the country", in reference to the organisations and local communities opposing the pipeline.

Given the great importance that the government is giving to the implementation of this project, Accion Ecologica fears that their lives will be endangered and particularly that of Yvonne Ramos, whom the President specifically mentioned.

Accion Ecologica is one of the organisations that lodged an appeal demanding the suspension of the contract between the government and the OCP consortium. The appeal was also signed by the main non government organisations and social movements of Ecuador, including CEDHU, APDH, CONAIE, FENOCIN, Seguro Social Campesino, among others.

Accion Ecologica / FoE Ecuador is requesting support particularly letters to President Noboa, asking him to respect the opinion and work of those who protect nature and life in the country, making him responsible for any physical attack on Accion Ecologica's members. FoE has stated that "More than ever we need to join forces and achieve international support to show that there are hundreds of organisations throughout the world that support ecologists in Ecuador and who oppose the OCP pipeline due to the social and environmental impacts it will entail".

Please send letters to:
Senor Doctor Gustavo Noboa,
Presidente, Republica del Ecuador,
Fax No. (593 2) 580 735
Quito - Ecuador

Please copy to:
Accion Ecologica,
Fax: 593 2 547516,
Quito - Ecuador
Email: amazonia@accionecologica.org

You can also send letters to the German Banks involved in funding the OCP pipeline:
To: WestLB Head of Executive Board, Mr. Dr. Friedel Neuber Cc: Prime Minister of Federal State Nordrhein-Westfalen, Mr. Wolfgang Clement, Minister of Economy of Federal State Nordrhein-Westfalen, Mr. Ernst Schwanhold Rheinischer Sparkassen- und Giroverband, President of Executive Board, Mr. Dr. Karlheinz Bentele Landschaftsverbandes Rheinland, Director Udo Molsberger
Email addresses: presse@westlb.de, wolfgang.clement@landtag.nrw.de , poststelle@mwmev.nrw.de, info@rsgv.de, post@lvr.de

Sample letter text:
Sir, We understand that the Westdeutsche Landesbank will be raising $900 million for the OCP oil pipeline in Ecuador.
This pipeline, if completed, will double the amount of oil which can be transported from the Ecuadorean Amazon and this will ruin many nature reserves and national parks and impact heavily on significant areas of tropical rainforest.
If you wish to maintain a good reputation in Germany and the world, we call on you to have nothing to do with this highly destructive project.

For further information contact:

FoE Australia national liaison office.
Ph: 03 9419 8700
Email: foe@foe.org.au
Box 222, Fitzroy, 3065.