Project Title: Oil Drilling in ‘Post-Neoliberal’ Ecuador and its Impact on Indigenous Autonomy in the Yasuní
Student: Hannah Sampson
Mentor: Dr. Jeremy Baskes
Two articles in the Constitution of the Ecuadorian government of President Rafael Correa have recently sparked controversy. Article 71 of the Constitution states that “Nature, or Pacha Mama,... has the right to integral respect for its existence and for the maintenance and regeneration of its life cycles.”, while Article 57 states that the indigenous communities of Ecuador have a right “To keep ownership ... of their community lands, which shall be unalienable.” Against these constitutional protections, the Yasuní National Park, home to more plant species in a hectare than exist in North America, as well as the voluntarily isolated Waorani and Kichwa indigenous groups, is in danger as Correa has approved oil drilling in the park. My presentation will use this example to 1) discuss the Correa government’s ambivalent relationship to the preservation of patrimony and 2) the autonomy of indigenous groups and apparent protections afforded by the Constitution.