Ecuadorians on Oil Drilling Near Uncontacted Tribes: Nope

As presidential election heads to a runoff
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 21, 2023 9:35 AM CDT
Ecuadorians Deliver a Hard No on Oil Drilling in Amazon
A voter carries the ballot for a referendum on whether the country should ban oil drilling in the Amazon, in Quito, Ecuador, Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023. Ecuadorians voted on Sunday against drilling in Yasuni National Park, a protected area that's home to two uncontacted tribes.   (AP Photo/Carlos Noriega, File)

In a historic decision, Ecuadorians voted on Sunday against the oil drilling of a protected area in the Amazon that's home to two uncontacted tribes and serves as a biodiversity hotspot. With over 90% of the ballots counted by early Monday, around six in 10 Ecuadorians rejected the oil exploration in Block 44, situated within Yasuni National Park, one of the world's most biodiverse regions. The area is inhabited by the Tagaeri and Taromenani, who live in self-isolation.

In 1989, Yasuni was designated a world biosphere reserve by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, also known as UNESCO. Encompassing a surface area of over 2.5 million acres, it boasts 610 species of birds, 139 species of amphibians, and 121 species of reptiles. As the AP reports, at least three species are endemic. The outcome represents a significant blow to Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso, who advocated for oil drilling, asserting that its revenues are crucial to the country's economy.

As a result of the vote, state oil company Petroecuador will be required to dismantle its operations in the coming months. The referendum took place alongside the presidential election, which will be decided in a runoff between leftist candidate Luisa González and right-wing contender Daniel Noboa. The country is experiencing political turmoil following the assassination of candidate Fernando Villavicencio. (More Ecuador stories.)

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