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From the archives

Imperialism and Sudan: same oil story

FRFI 181, October/November 2004

Sudan oil fire min

Just as they did at the end of the 19th century in the rush for gold and diamonds, in a renewed competitive rush to plunder the oppressed nations of the world for their natural resources, especially oil, the imperialists are intent on neo-colonising and controlling Africa’s vast resources. Read more >


Monopoly: ‘the death-knell of capitalism’

The Myth of Capitalism cover blur min

We review a new book on economics which exposes the symptoms of capitalism's terminal sickness.


Ecuador: mining law splits the indigenous community

A recent spate of protests by some indigenous groups in Ecuador against a new mining law has ex­posed tensions with the radical government of President Rafael Correa. The ur­gency of the law arose from a decision by the former Constituent Assembly to cancel all existing legislation, thereby suspending all mining concessions while mandating a term of six months for the development of a new legal framework.

Correa had defended from the very beginning the necessity of a new way of mining that introduces a considerable degree of environmental responsibility, and that increases the stake of the Ecuadorian state in terms of royalties and taxation. Broadly, the law that Correa and his supporters proposed would provide a series of guarantees to areas affected by potential mining, including the right to a non-binding referendum.

Correa has warned that ‘we cannot live as beggars while sitting on a sack of gold’, highlighting the state’s budgetary problems with the declining prices and reserves of Ecuadorian oil, and the badly needed social and infrastructure projects that the new Constitution prescribes.

The Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) and some ecologists did not consider the safeguards sufficient, and tried to block the approval of the new law. On 20 January, a national mobilisation against the law took place. However, support was limited. In the 1990s, the indigenous movement had organised uprisings that were strong enough to topple two presidents. But the movement fragmented after the CONAIE leadership decided to join the previous reactionary Gutierrez government. Hence some sections of the indigenous movement broadly support the law, especially as they have seen in Correa’s government the first executive really attending to their concerns. It is not by chance that Pachakutik, the political arm of CONAIE, kept a certain distance from the protest, and that other indigenous groups and communities have had only mild criticisms of the law’s provisions.

There are clearly serious issues at stake. On the one hand there are the needs of the environment which has been severely damaged by past mining and oil extraction. On the other, Correa envisages a model of development to deliver decent standards of living for a population where 30% live in poverty. He is conscious that mining in itself cannot be a model for sustainable development and that the environmental resources of Ecuador must be preserved, but recognises the importance of generating the necessary funds to build a new economy.

Samuele Mazzolini, Movement of Ecuadorians in the UK

FRFI 207 February / March 2009


Environment Campaign List

  • Climate protests – a breath of fresh air >

    ‘We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past and you will ignore us again. We have run out of excuses Read More
  • RCG joins Youth Strike 4 Climate - 15 March >

    On 15 March, more than a million school and college students, along with teachers and other supporters joined the second global Youth Strike 4 Climate (click for background on the Read More
  • World has 12 years to solve climate change >

    On 8 October 2018, the world’s leading climate scientists warned in a report for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that there are only 12 years for global Read More
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