We are delighted to share the emphatic victories of the popular referendums in Ecuador. Last weekend’s consulta popular on the future of the Chocó Andino and Yasuní turned out to be a seismic event. The effort of local communities and campaigners led to results that demonstrate a path forward for popular democracy and the defence of culture and nature for generations to come across South America and the world.
In a truly landmark move, the people of Quito overwhelmingly voted to protect the Chocó Andino from metal mining – an average of 68% in favour of a future without mining across the four questions. In doing so, the people recognised the integrality of the Chocó Andino biosphere reserve – commonly known as ‘the lungs of Quito’ for sustaining life in the capital and beyond. The popularity of the Quito Sin Minería campaign demonstrates the support for an alternative vision for the area, based upon interdependence, respect and living in harmony with nature through a solidarity economy of agroecology and eco-tourism.
The success (with 59% of the vote) of the Yasuní referendum, is the result of more than ten years of fighting by organisations and collectives such as Yasunidos across three governments to hold a popular consultation on the protection of the national park from oil extraction.
Yasuní is one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet, and is home to the Waorani, as well as the Tagaeri and Taromenane – the last two remaining indigenous populations living in voluntary isolation in Ecuador. As a result of the consultation, Petroecuador will have one year to abandon oil extraction and leave the area. With this victory, the Ecuadorian people are paving the way forward for the popular defence of our planet against climate change, a path which we must all follow.
Both popular consultations were undeniably centred around an alternative vision for the organisation of Ecuadorian society and its relationship to nature. It would be a mistake to believe that the referendums solely fought for the democratic right of the people to say ‘No’ and reject extractivism. In reality, the campaigns also fought for their Right to Say ‘Yes’ to the Chocó Andino and Yasuní; to protect traditions, cultures, economies, and ways of living in harmony with nature that have existed long before multinational corporations entered these areas against their will with a proposal of “development and progress” that is incapable of sustaining life.
As CATAPA, we recognise that the struggle to protect the Chocó Andino and Yasuní does not end with the results of the popular referendums. The government of Guillermo Lasso must comply with its constitutional obligations and respect the will of the Ecuadorian people by immediately putting into action the dismantling of operations in Block 43-ITT, Yasuní. We support the statement of Yasunidos and will be closely following the situation as it develops.
We remain vigilant to ensure the will of the Ecuadorian people is respected and upheld, and that no mining or oil companies attempt to enter the regions and restart operations.