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Conflicts between Resource Development and Indigenous People

Manuel Eduardo Echeverría G., Mining and Oil & Gas Development in Latin America (2001)

Even though the Ecuadorian oil production dates back to the beginning of the last century, it was not until 1967, when oil was discovered in profitable amounts in the Ecuadorian Amazon jungle, that a new era started. This new era was characterized by a strange relationship between indigenous communities, which had lived isolated, without any contact with the rest of the country and companies as well. These companies, like the ones dedicated to develop natural resources, had an expertise in searching for the accumulations of oil in the underground, and its exploitation. However, these companies lacked the knowledge, and in many cases, the cultural awareness and humanistic training to understand and immerse themselves with those human beings to whom they were not linked by any cultural, economic or social tie.

Activity in the region developed under these circumstances. In the first phase, simply, the presence of the indigenous communities was ignored and they were pushed out of their territories. In a second phase, which only dates back a decade ago, the indigenous communities were acknowledged and their customs and lifestyle was integrated to the activities in the agenda of the company. Not withstanding, the road traveled is far from taking us to safe ground. There is not an integrated legal framework that allows coherent actions. Also, it is lacking a strategy that del