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Commentary :: International
Ecuadorian People defeat Occidental Petroleum
17 May 2006
Modified: 11:04:30 PM
Brief Analysis of the victory of Ecudorian Civil Society over multinational oil.
Dear all,

Some thoughts about a very significant economic, environmental and social justice victory for and by the people of Ecuador.

A victory which reinforces the clear “shape up or ship out” message Latin America civil society is sending multinational corporations and economic models that have historically not acted in the best interest of the Latin American people.

After years of Occidental Petroleum’s (OXY) reckless and damaging exploration and exploitation practices, violence against and intimidation of local citizens, and partnering with corrupt Ecuadorian officials, the Ecuadorian government, under pressure from organized civil society, is not renewing any of Oxy's contracts and the Ecuadorian army has been ordered to occupy all of that company’s
installations in the country.

This, after Bolivia’s recent nationalization of their oil and gas industries, begins to paint the picture of a clear transition in Latin America from the empty leftist populist rhetoric of out of office politicians, to concrete actions by
governments with little choice but to respond to the demands of a well-organized civil society.

From its onset, the grassroots struggle against Oxy was framed as part of a broader political national discourse presenting its case against the FTAA and to terminate a series of bilateral trade agreements the Ecuadorian government has been negotiating with the US. A large, and increasingly well-organized part of Ecuadorian civil society targeting Oxy, also felt that the economic model being advanced by these agreements would only exacerbate the wealth divide and economic injustice of their country, not diminish it, as being promised by its advocates.

Occidental Petroleum, with its history of poor business practices and abuses of Ecuador’s national sovereignty thus becomes the epitome of this economic model’s “promise”. Defeating Oxy, defeated the bilateral agreement. Defeating the privatization of the oil refinery in Uruguay, was followed by a defeat of the neo-liberal Colorado party government at the polls. After the mobilizations to defeat the privatization of water in Cochabamba, there was no turning back for the Bolivian people. In Ecuador then, in my opinion, Oxy was targetted, not just as a well-deserving object of the people’s rage against the sell-out of the Ecuadorian national patrimony to the highest corrupt bibber, but also to fuel the ultimate
defeat of the broader and various agents of neoliberalism...

The alliance ultimately responsible for this victory against a multinational corporation and the facto temporary termination the bilateral trade agreement between the US and Ecuador is composed of community based organizations, regional and national groups, NGO’s, indigenous networks and general progressive political
forces. This mosaic of nation-wide Ecuadorian civil society collaborating, sharing resources, respecting roles in order to collectively succeed against Empire, is an effective manifestation of something not too different from what we are attempting to build here when we talk about building a broad and functional “movement”.

In other words, there are critical experiences and lessons emerging from the Global South, particularly from Latin America, which should not
be ignored by the progressive forces in the Global North as we ourselves attempt to build our own effective broad alliances of resistance to tackle social and economic injustices in our own countries. Something is clearly working in the
South that we should perhaps be paying closer attention to…

I don’t claim to know what exactly it is that’s working there that we can immediately draw from to help us in our own work. I wish I could, but this would be an outrageous act of political science presumption...One empirical trend I do
recognize, and feel comfortable in sharing, is that in Latin America these recent successes by civil society against injustice are being primarily and unequivocally informed by a critique and direct challenge to the 20 year failure of an imposed and undemocratic economic model. This model has systematically maximized the capacity for pillaging and preventing wealth distribution by
perpetrating economic trends entrenched in racist exploitation, disinvestments in the public sector, mismanagement of the national natural resources, violation of indigenous territorial rights, environmental degradation, thoroughly
institutionalized corruption and a total lack of governmental accountability and protection of the people’s welfare (sounds familiar?…)

Another key lesson I recognize is that governments are falling like dominoes (a new progressive version of the domino theory emerging?) when failing to respond appropriately to the will of the people, and new governments, committed to more accountable governance that indeed does reflect the will and interests of the
majority of the people, have replaced them. How well these governments honor these commitments remains to be seen. Regardless of what any one politician or political party honors or fails to honor, the fact remains that it is the
people's demand for change that is informing the winds of change and this popular and organized mass consciousness moving forward is no longer something the political class in Latin America can afford to ignore. They are simply not being
allowed to. This is indeed a very welcome political trend across the continent.

The culture of irresponsible corporate rule and corrupt political machineries in our hemisphere is thus being challenged today like never before, and most importantly, from the ground up. Ecuadorian civil society joins the voices of
other nations in our hemisphere in saying, “No mas! The wealth of our nations belongs to its people not corrupt politicians or multinational corporations”.

Additionally, the organized civil society of these nations are sharing their experiences, fueling each other's victories and struggles, awakening to the reality that another more just, healthier, greener, more humane world is indeed possible and that the invincibility of the agents of injustice is but a myth...


Adrián Boutureira

Hello Lucy Parsons Compas!

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Re: Ecuadorian People defeat Occidental Petroleum
18 May 2006
awesome analysis, Adrian. It´s the best news for Ecuador in a long time. It´s interesting to point also how the FTAA agreement bt. Ecuador and the US failed because the Ecuadorian requested 50% of oil revenue instead of the 30% we currently receive. The US refused and the negotiations were cancelled. I think Oxy in a way was a direct result of that major disagreement. Also, Oxy is only 1 of 20 oil companies in Ecuador, most them from other countries (Canada, Brasil, Spain), so what do they have to lose? saludos!
Have a Biscuit, Doggie-Doo
18 May 2006
Countries like ecuador are paid plenty by oil companies for oil and gas extraction. Oil companies and oil service companies also benefit Third World nations by providing technology and technical help without which the oil and gas would never be extracted.

It is not America's fault or Exxon's fault that the Third World and Arab nations are corrupt. The hundreds of billions, if not trillions of dollars paid in royalties to countries like Ecuador and Venezuela have been stolen not by Americans by by natives of the nation from where the oil comes.

As demand falls in the US with a recession and greater energy efficiency, little pisspots like Morales wil beg for concessions. And like Allende, they will receive their just reward.