Stop oil companies – advance climate justice! Support the referendum for the preservation of the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador

On August 20, 2023, the people of Ecuador are called to a referendum: they will decide whether oil exploration will be expanded into the heart of the Amazon rainforest or banned there forever. In Yasuní National Park, the region in question, more species are found on a single hectare of land than in the entire North American continent.

The referendum is the successful result of a long-standing political and legal struggle of the urban youth movement YASunidos against the Ecuadorian state. It also offers a very concrete opportunity for action here in Europe for all those who are increasingly frustrated by the annual UN climate negotiations and by European climate policy. We can establish a small piece of climate justice and contribute to the preservation of a hot spot of global biodiversity by making a donation.

Oil companies and the neoliberal Lasso government are using all means to keep Ecuadorians from voting for the rights of nature through a fear campaign. Without oil exports, the small country will go broke, they say. But they hide the fact that Ecuador's oil reserves are running out anyway and that oil production in the Yasuní is not even profitable because of the poor quality of the oil.

The broad alliance for the Yasuní National Park therefore urgently needs donations to be able to carry out a successful counter-campaign. Only if the oil production is stopped by a democratic decision in August, there will be room to expand sustainable management. The preservation of the Amazon region is of utmost importance for the global ecological balance!

YASunidos and its allies (environmentalists, feminists, indigenous people, urban cyclist initiatives, oil workers, students and activists) stand for a generation fighting for a livable future in dignity. They take social responsibility for a new balance with nature and stand up for a very concrete response of Ecuador to global warming and species extinction, which has a model character worldwide. 

Therefore, we ask you to contribute to this cause and to spread this appeal for donations through your contacts!

For background, a brief review: 

Rafael Correa (2007-2017) announced it would leave an estimated 846 million barrels of oil in the ground in the Amazon if the international community compensated for half of the revenue expected from the export of that oil through a trust fund.  The ITT oil field in question is not only located in Yasuní National Park, one of the world's biodiversity hotspots - experts say there are more species on a single hectare of land there than in the entire North American continent - but it also overlaps with an area inhabited by two indigenous ethnic groups that have so far refused any contact with the Western world, the Tagaeri and Taromenane.

In August 2013, President Correa announced the failure of the initiative and his government initiated oil exploration. In response, an urban youth movement called YASunidos - Together for the Yasuní - came together in many Ecuadorian cities. They mobilized for a referendum, guaranteed by the 2008 constitution, to reverse the government's decision in favor of oil and against biodiversity and indigenous rights with the help of direct democracy. At the time, opinion polls confirmed that 75% of Ecuadorians would have voted against oil explotation.

Although YASunidos submitted almost 200,000 signatures more than the 5% of voters required by the constitution, for a total of 750,000, the electoral authority invalidated 60% of these signatures under various pretexts, so that the referendum could not take place. YASunidos then fought their way through all instances until finally, on May 9, 2023, the Ecuadorian Constitutional Court ruled that the referendum had to be implemented. It has now been scheduled by the electoral authority for August 20, 2023, the day on which Ecuador will also elect a new president and parliament.

 The neoliberal government of Guillermo Lasso and the oil industry are eagerly arguing that the country, already shaken by the pandemic and a disastrous economic policy, will go completely bankrupt if the oil is not produced. However, Prof. Dr. Carlos Larrea, a development economist from the University Andina Simón Bolívar, calculates that oil production from the Yasuní is not even profitable because of the poor quality of the oil, and that Ecuador urgently needs to change its economic course anyway because of dwindling reserves and for reasons of climate change. In addition, the oil price is set much too high at $97 in the calculations of how much the treasury would allegedly lose. However, it is also important to note that the promised "development" has not taken place in 50 years of oil production, and most of the money has either benefited transnational corporations or disappeared into corruption. For the people of Ecuador, what remains is contaminated water and soil that makes them sick and their food sovereignty impossible.

Please send donations to:
IBAN: DE42 4306 0967 6007 7261 02
GLS-Gemeinschaftsbank eG (BIC: GENODEM1GLS)
Please indicate the purpose: Yasuni

or PayPal-Donation
Please indicate the purpose (via PayPal: the comment): Yasuni

All donations go to the Ecuador Group of the Ecosocial and Intercultural Pact for the South ( and benefit different sub-groups of this alliance in different parts of the country. These are the recipient organisations:

- Comité Permanente por la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos, in Guayaquil,
- Cabildo por el Agua in Cuenca,  
- Fundación Utopía in Riobamba, linked to the nationwide Colectivo Agroecologico.

Picture: Andrés Novales
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