Ecuadorians have voted in a referendum to halt all new oil developments in the Yasuní national park, a UNESCO world biosphere in the Amazon rainforest.1
The 1M-hectare reserve is home to 610 species of birds, 139 amphibians, and 121 species of reptiles. It is also the home of the Tagaeri and Taromenane tribes, who live in voluntary isolation.2
In 2016, Ecuador's state oil company, Petroecuador, began drilling in a small portion of Yasuní, with the development being responsible for 12% of the country's oil production. As a result of the referendum, the development will need to shutter in one year.3
The ballots — counted Monday — saw the anti-development side garner 59% of the vote. The voters also voted to ban mining in the Choco Andino forest with 68% support. Choco Andino is located near the country's capital city of Quito.4
Outgoing Pres. Guillermo Lasso said the economy would lose $16B over the next 20 years if drilling was halted. Petroecuador had the rights to 300 hectares of land and had actively used 80 of them.5
Proponents of the ban have proposed a 10% cut in tax exemptions for the wealthy, promotions of eco-tourism, and the electrification of public transit to offset the losses incurred by the measure.3
Right narrative, as provided by La Prensa Latina. This ban will have an adverse effect on the communities it aims to protect. There are a wide array of views among the indigenous tribes of Ecuador, with many supporting the oil developments. Petroecuador helped bring healthcare, education, and economic stability to disparate communities and worked to mitigate all environmental damages. Countless Ecuadorians will now suffer as a result of this feel-good move.
Left narrative, as provided by Global Citizen. The Amazon rainforest is one of the most environmentally important regions in the world, and Ecuador took a big step to ensure it remains protected. Any given hectare of Yasuní will contain more animal species than in all of Europe, and we cannot let the short-sighted prospect of oil money destroy such a bounty. Ecuadorians voted not just to protect the Amazon but the biodiversity of the natural world itself.