FRONTIERE DE VIE ...Official European website




Millions of hectares destroyed every year

It is no secret any more: apart from some nature reserves the whole Amazonian forest is threatened and with it all tropical forests on earth

Though we know, and repeat and rehash that this is an immeasurable catastrophe, a tragedy for biodiversity, even a serious threat on the survival of humankind, things do not change: destruction extends year after year. Today, in Brazil only, one million hectares of forest is destroyed every year to give way to soya crops!

The peoples who live in the forest were first affected by such unprecedented destruction. Many just disappeared; most went through a terrifying social and cultural reshuffling. Those who are still around are aware of of what is expecting them, they fight for their survival and their dignity.

Oil exploitation in Ecuador

So as to develop Amazonian oil exploitation the Ecuador government borrowed billions of dollars from abroad, thus increasing the country’s debt in scary proportions.

Caught in a vicious circle, until the audit of external debts that is being carried out, the only way it could pay back was by further increasing oil exploitation, which meant going over the top.

1,500,000 hectares of forests are already exploited.

500 kms of roads have been laid for 400 pumping rigs that produce 17 millions litres of unprocessed toxic waste every day. These are disposed of into opencut basins that overflow with tropical rains and spread into the forest.

All life has disappeared from some rivers.

Indian people who lived on those territories were killed off by the flu, breathing disorders, cancers, and neurological disorders.

In 1995 Ecuador opened ten new 200,000 hectare parcels to exploitation, including the territory on which the Kichwa people of Sarayaku live. Some of these are located in areas that the UNESCO MAB programme claimed as biosphere reserve.

Ecuador oil reserves could be exhausted within 15 years, with the oil companies leaving an ecological disaster and a desperate predicament for some 200,000 inhabitants.

In the 1960s the indigenous peoples of Ecuadorian Amazonia to the north of the country experienced what it meant for oil companies to invade their territories.
Given their contempt for both people and forest they soon created an unprecedented ecological disaster: so much oil and residues leaked into the streams and lagoons that it amounted to several times the Exxon Valdez shipwreck.
Colonizers brought with them the use of narcotics, corruption and prostitution. Exhausted and physically wrecked Indian people had to leave their lands and join the shambles of violent cityslums.

The threat of oil on Sarayaku

Today the Indian peoples in the south of the country, among whom the Kichwa people of Sarayaku, have united to oppose such issue. Sarayaku has been noticed for its steadfastness over the past ten years, which have been most trying on its 1,200 members. The various episodes in their struggle could fill a thick volume (threats, corruption, tortures, military occupation, etc.)

In 2003 600 workers of an oil company protected by 400 armed soldiers illegally invaded the territory of Sarayaku to carry out seismic operations. For several months they buried hundreds of kilos of explosives.
Sarayaku opposed a non-violent but determined resistance: Web campaigns, international petitions, support by organizations such as Greenpeace and Amnesty International, peace camps, and a lawsuit to be processed by the International Court for Indigenous Human rights against the State of Ecuador for violation of its constitution.

The International Court for Indigenous Human rights deemed the case receivable and the oil company was invited to withdraw shortly before it ignited its explosives. A major lawsuit is in process. A victory for Sarayaku would be an unprecedented push forward for indigenous peoples, a legal precedent that would benefit all American indigenous peoples.

‘Frontière de Vie’ is another approach next to other forms of support to arouse some international awareness. Analyzing their current situation led the Sarayaku Indians to add ‘Fontière de vie’ to the means they can already rely on in their megal and mediatic struggle. Neither the government nor the compagnies are about to give up.