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ECUADOR
Indigenous group kicks out oil company
2/10/2010
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Government and company mutually agree end contract.

The Sarayaku Kichwa indigenous group in Ecuador´s Amazon jungle saw a happy ending to its 14-year struggle to end two oil giants´ presence on its land.

In December, Argentina´s Compañía General de Combustibles, a subsidiary of US oil company Chevron, and Burlington Resources, of the United States, agreed to end their oil contracts with the government amid pressure from the local indigenous community.

The government had granted the two companies a concession to explore and drill in on two lots in the area in 1996, without consulting the Sarayaku community, in the Pastaza province.

The concession violated an agreement signed seven years earlier in which the government guaranteed the Sarayaku community´s rights to the land and banned oil exploration there.

In early 2003, the government put the military in control of the indigenous area so the indigenous community members did not even have free movement on their own lands, and the oil companies began to intimidate the local population.

A year later, the community presented a case against the Ecuadorian state before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a body of the Organization of American States, that sought protection for the community. The following year, the oil companies had to suspend their activities since the Inter-American Court on Human Rights ruled that the government must protect the community.

The government has not complied with the part of the sentence that called for the removal of 400 kilograms of explosives planted by the Argentine company in the indigenous area, and on Feb. 3, the community appealed to the court to pressure the government into complying with the sentence.
—Latinamerica Press.


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