The people of Ecuador are rising up to refound their country as a pluri-national homeland for all. This inspiring movement, with Ecuador's indigenous peoples at its heart, is part of the revolution spreading across the Americas, laying the groundwork for a new, fairer, world. Ecuador Rising aims to bring news and analysis of events unfolding in Ecuador to english speakers.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Ecuador Indians Want Oil-Spill Emergency Declared
QUITO – Representatives of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, or Conaie, and regional organizations warned Tuesday about the effects of the oil spill in an area of the Amazon and asked that a state of emergency be declared in the affected communities.

Conaie leader Marlon Santi told a press conference that some 47 indigenous communities were hit by the Feb. 25 spill of some 14,000 barrels of crude when an earthquake cracked open an OCP pipeline.

The spill, which Santi called “worrying,” took place near the Santa Rosa River, and contaminated its waters and those of the Napo and Coca rivers.

The Indians asked the government for “urgent help” to diminish “the ecological, social and health damages” since, according to Santi, communities in the area are in “a desperate situation – besides life itself, the most important resources are water and crops.”

He said there were “nine people in a bad state of health” and complained that “there’s no serious social assistance.”

According to Blanca Grefa, head of an Indian organization in Orellana province, also polluted by the oil spill, the area is “super contaminated.” She said that besides “neighbors who were affected,” the fish and birds are also endangered.

The indigenous leader said that the communities are concerned because they have nowhere to get water and said that it’s only in cities of the sector where OCP has bothered to provide drinking water.

Grefa’s colleague Roberto Alvarado called on OCP to “sit down and negotiate with the communities to channel all aid to them,” and complained that the government “has not bothered” about the spill, whose consequences “could last two years.”

In that sense, Conaie’s Santi referred to the words of the new constitution which say that “in case of environmental damage, Ecuador will act immediately and will subsidize ways to protect health and ecosystems.”

“OCP is doing the clean-up, but the spill is big and the impact is serious. There’s no contingency planning or concern on the government’s part to force the OCP company to provide health and water services,” he said.

For its part, OCP announced in a communique that Tuesday the transport of crude will be renewed through the oil pipeline and that the clean-up operation will continue in the Santa Rosa district.

Oil is the main source of funding for the Ecuadorian government, since the revenues from its export contribute 35 percent to the budget. EFE

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