Ecuador: army ordered to break up oil protests

Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa announced last week that he will increase military and security forces around oil facilities and allow the use of force to remove protestors. “We will not allow any more invasions of oil installations or the blockage of roads,” said Correa while visiting the Amazon, which contains the country’s largest oil reserves. [Reuters, April 27]

In March protestors demanding a greater share of profits from the drilling disrupted oil production of Brazil’s Petrobras. Correa said that as a result the country lost $500,000 a day. “We will not tolerate any more acts of force. We will not be intimidated. There are prefects who seize oil wells and organize invasions, but we will not allow it,” said Correa. “Anarchy must end in this country and the principle of authority must be respected.” [Xinhua, March 24]

Although Correa has said that his government intends to renegotiate oil contracts, it is unclear whether he will adopt more “radical” measures, such as nationalization—something supported by some indigenous groups. Possible violent clashes between indigenous protestors and the military and police could alienate a very powerful segment of Correa’s supporters and undermine his political strength in Quito.

Cyril Mychalejko for Upside Down World, May 3

See our last post on Ecuador.