Updated: Sep 14
Petróleo: ¿Una Selva Negra?
Oil? A Black Forest?
Juan Lorenzo Barragan and Jorge Juan Anhalzer
Fundación Ecuatoriana de Estudios Ecológicos
Offset, Circa 1990
CSPG’s Poster of the Week features a poster produced by Ecuadorian artists Juan Lorenzo Barragan, Jorge Juan Anhalzer and the Ecuadorian Foundation for Ecological Studies (Fundación Ecuatoriana de Estudios Ecológicos) whose mission is to conserve biological diversity and promote harmonious coexistence between humans and nature.
On August 20th, 2023, Ecuadaorians voted to ban oil drilling in the Yasuní National Park, a protected region of the Amazon rainforest. This vote will end state oil company operations in the region, most notably Petroecuador, the state-sponsored oil company. This company and others in the region will be required to dismantle their operations in the eastern part of Yasuní in the coming months.
The Yasuní National Park covers 2.5 million acres, houses 610 species of birds, 139 species of amphibians, and 121 species of reptiles. This region is also inhabited by several Indigenous communities including the Waori, Kichwa, Tagaeri, and Taromenane. Two of these communities, Tagaeri and Taromenane, are some of the last living in voluntary isolation. These Indigenous groups live in total dependence on their ecological environment; any change to their habitat can have detrimental effects on its members and the entire community.
This victory is not only a blow to oil companies, but also to outgoing Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso who is a strong supporter of oil drilling. Lasso previously stated that Ecuador's economy relies heavily on oil drilling and that rather than abandoning fossil fuels, Ecuador should extract every last drop they can. Earlier this year, Lasso faced corruption charges for embezzlement of state funds related to a state-owned oil transport company.
While this vote applies only to the Yasuní region, the struggle continues elsewhere in Ecuador to end oil extraction. This referendum comes at a time when climate change is exacerbating floods, wildfires, landslides, and heat waves across the globe. Protecting the world's largest rainforest is of utmost importance. With the first-of-its-kind referendum, Ecuador has become a model for the world, as they democratize climate action to safeguard ecosystems and Indigenous rights, and put an end to predatory oil drilling and corrupt leaders.