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19 September 2011 | | |

It Was About Time

NGO “Conservation International” expelled from Ecuador

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The US non governmental organization Conservation International (CI) will no longer be able to operate in Ecuador. The organization has been repeatedly accused of serving to cover up extractive projects to the detriment of community rights.

The decision was taken by the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Technical International Cooperation of Ecuador. The organization, sponsored by transnational corporations and linked with World Bank and USAID programs, is no longer authorized to operate in Ecuador, but it continues operating in Peru and Colombia.

A report by the Latin American News Agency (ALAI) says that some of the reasons provided by the Ecuadorian state included that the agreement that governed CI’s activities in Ecuador expired in 2006. The NGO also failed to comply with the Ombudsman’s resolution (Dr. Fernando Gutierrez), who ordered the compulsory compliance with the payment of a handicap insurance policy for Ecuadorian biologist Alfredo Luna, who suffered a plane accident while he was working for the organization. The activities actually covered up fact-finding missions for US mining industries.

Alfredo Luna himself described the situation in an interview with Real World Radio last June. He said that as a result of a lawsuit for damages he filed against CI over the accident that left him handicapped, he traced the interests that were concealed behind the funding of these research projects: doing a mapping that would be later used by the extractive industries and biopiracy.

According to ALAI’s article, CI was founded in 1987. It is based in Washington D.C. and it operates in 25 countries in four continents. Some of its sponsors include US largest transnational corporations like Chevron, Monsanto, Coca Cola, Walmart, Walt Disney, Mc Donalds and Rio Tinto.

Eduardo Tamayo’s article for ALAI reads “during its years of operation in Ecuador -from 1964 to 1990- Chevron oil corporation (former Texaco) caused one of the worse environmental disasters in the Amazon: the spill of waste water into rivers causing pollution and serious illnesses to the local residents. That is one of the CI’s sponsors. For this reason, Chevron has been tried by a group of residents and indigenous peoples to demand the clean-up, compensation and reparation for the damages caused. Meanwhile, Chevron has sued the Ecuadorian state for millions of dollars and it has pressured the US government to renew its tariff preferences, ATPDEA, in Ecuador”.

The Center for Policy, Social and Economy Studies of Mexico conducted a research on the CI’s presence in the state of Chiapas, Mexico. The study concluded that the CI strategy aimed to generate conflict between the Zapatista peoples or the EZLN itself and the Caribes or Lacandon people, and to evict the communities from Montes azules Biosphere Reserve (REBIMA).

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