Creative Destruction in Ecuador: Wealth vs. Environment – By Eli Peñaherrera

26 Apr

Ecuador is the first country in the world that granted in its Constitution the rights to nature. In Ecuador’s new Constitution, which was established in 2008, the country recognized the rights of nature itself. The 86th Article of the Constitution establishes “The State shall protect the right of people to live in a healthy and ecologically balanced environment that ensures sustainable development. Shall ensure that this right is not affected and ensure the preservation of nature “.

Ecuador recently started with the initiative of preserving a Natural Park of the Amazonas located in Ecuador called Yasuní- ITT, which contains one of the biggest reserves of oil in the country. Rafael Correa offered not to exploit this area in order to preserve one of the biggest lungs of the world; he offered to do this in exchange for donations from other countries. The motivation is to conserve biodiversity, protect indigenous peoples living in voluntary isolation, and avoid CO2 emissions.

However, in spite of this most encouraging gesture, nothing has changed. Recently the country signed an agreement allowing the Chinese enterprise, EcuaCorriente, to begin with large scale mining in the south of the country for 25 years. The government of Ecuador signed two months ago, a contract worth almost $1,500 million to develop the first ‘mega’ copper mining, through the open pit method. All forms of mining have a negative environmental impact, but open pit mining can be extremely damaging as it involves the stripping away of the top layers of the earth.

As an argument to defend this agreement the government said “We cannot be beggars sitting on a sack of gold”. And I ask what happened with the image that we projected globally of trying to protect the environment; or it all comes to double standards the moment nature interferes with wealth?

Yes, it is true that with this will bring a great economic development, which perhaps will contribute to industrial and technologic development, but again what happens to what was said to what is established in the Constitution: “The preservation of the environment, conservation of ecosystems, biodiversity and genetic integrity of the country”. With this contract, that will last for 25 years, thousands of acres of rain forest which sustain countless numbers of animal species will disappear.

In conclusion, “the ends justify the means” is a corrosive ideology, because through the idea of growing economically we are forgetting to preserve the environment. Perhaps my idea sounds idealistic, but we cannot stand that it is becoming a regular thing to manage double standards and to accept whatever brings more money without thinking about the future.

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2 Responses to “Creative Destruction in Ecuador: Wealth vs. Environment – By Eli Peñaherrera”

  1. Víctor Julio Galicia April 26, 2012 at 9:31 pm #

    I think it’s become too easy to step over the constitution in Latin America. It’s a constant, each new government will try to change the constitution to adapt it to its own ideas, instead of adapting the government to what constitution says.

    In the worst cases (Venezuela) they do it constantly by creating an all new constitution (1999), reforming most of it (2007, fortunately without success) and amending it (2009, well, they had to find a way to introduce the changes they were looking for), all under the same government! It’s ridiculous.

    • Elisa Peñaherrera April 26, 2012 at 11:32 pm #

      I agree with you Victor, actually in Ecuador we have had 20 Constitutions can you imagine that?.. what is crazy for me is that the current government was the one that changed the Constitution, therefore we all assumed it was to adapt it to its own ideas, nevertheless, we are seeing how it all comes to double standards and not having a clear position and yes as you said, they just step on the constitution.

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