Ecuador: is PetroOriental retaliating against indigenous community for lawsuit against climate change?

(Paris, Quito) – Acción Ecológica, FIDH’s member organisation in Ecuador, learned that the Chinese company PetroOriental is engaging in actions that could be considered retaliation against the Waorani community of Miwaguno, after some of the community’s members sued the company for the impacts of climate change in their territories last month.

PetroOriental announced that it would withdraw the contributions given to community elders and that it would terminate the only job it provided to the community in oil Block 14 of the Amazon – thus implying that its support is conditioned on the community not demanding greater respect of its rights.

The actions of the Chinese company are not only miserly – they are scandalous and immoral. With their demand, the Miwaguno people are claiming their rights recognised by Ecuador’s constitution and furthermore contribute to the good of Ecuador and humanity as a whole. They had demanded the closure of the three gas flares and as well as necessary reparation measures so that they could carry out projects allowing them to confront the impacts of climate change, such as the recovery of their crops and traditional seeds, recovery of their medicinal plants – a measure of extreme urgency in the context of the coronavirus pandemic – or rebuilding houses that were swept away by the flooding of the river.

The lawsuit consists of a petition for a constitutional protection action due to the undeniable contribution to global warming of the Block 14 gas flares and whose impacts at the local level have caused damage – from flooding of the river and smaller crops, to changes in rainfall patterns, among others.

PetroOriental’s Chinese parent companies are SINOPEC and CNCP, which are among the largest oil corporations in the world and had revenues of $822 billion in 2019.

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