Correa and Lula plot to cut down the forest and scoop out the rivers
In yesterday’s el Comercio, as in the other major Ecuadorian papers, the headlines were Correa’s visit with Lula in Brasil, which culminated in the signing of fifteen economic convenios (agreements) ordered in three categories: (i) to widen the energy cooperation; (ii) widen the financial integration (in Latin American, one of Correa’s main points); and (iii) a commission that shall analyse the situation of a corridor from Manta to Manaus.
!these are not tree-huggers, but loggers!
The corridors – and the devastating effect it is likely to have on the environment and the culture and livelihoods of the people who live along the roads and rivers to be turned into commodity highways – has been a topic in previous entries and this entry shall serve only to reiterate where Mr. Correa is taking his neo-socialist movement: to the destruction of the forest while ignoring the land and culture of the indigenous peoples of the Amazon..
Correa’s visit in Brasil, as already mentioned, concluded with the signing of fifteen convenios and should be understood as a longer process that began before Correa had even taken his presidential seat in Quito and which extends plans of previous Ecuadorian governments.
One of the main points on the exclusively economic agenda of Correa’s neo-socialist revolution in Ecuador is the Manta-Manaus corridor and it was agreed, between Ecuador and Brasil, to set down a bi-national commission to analise “the situation”:
“Una comisión analizará la situación de la vía Manta-Manaos. Una vía que una el puerto de Manta en Ecuador con Manaos en Brasil y se convierta en la ruta de entrada para el Atlántico, en el caso ecuatoriano, y el Pacífico, en el caso brasilero, fue parte del discurso de ayer de los mandatarios Rafael Correa y Lula da Silva.
Ambos anunciaron que tomaron la resolución de formar una comisión binacional que se reunirá dentro de 15 días en Quito para empezar a trabajar en el proyecto, y que continuará con reuniones periódicas en ambos países. “
The commission is to commence working in Quito within fifteen days, that is, by now, fourteen and counting….
Hidrovias are a common Euro-American developmentalist paradigm phenomenon and is currently also debated in southern Brasil where evaluations of “the hydrologic impact of the Hidrovia project on the Pantanal of Mato Grosso, that is, the changes in water and sediment runoff to be expected as a result of project implementation” has been carried out.
A fairly “general” point made in the evaluation reads:
“# Channel modifications (straightening, dredging, and particularly blasting of rocky sills), will destabilize the river’s baseflow regime, and will demand future action in the river to continue to maintain the required minimum draft for navigation, i.e., it will set in place a vicious circle of channel interventions.”
The German “Gesellschaft für technische Zusammenarbeit” (GTZ) has been doing studies for the purposes of scooping out an hidrovia on the Rio Napo already, since the projected Manta-Manaus corridor was an idea of the late Gustavo Noboa government.
Rafael Correa has adopted the idea and it is now a central element in his plans for economic development and financial integration of Latin America, which also counts a Brasil-China-Ecuador collaboration to exploit some of Ecuador’s major oil fields, including investments by Petroleo Brasileiro SA in Ecuador reaching U$1 billion by 2010:
“Brazil’s Petrobras today signed a memorandum of understanding with Ecuador’s state-owned PetroEcuador to propose plans to explore the Ishpingo-Tiputini-Tambococha oil fields, the Rio de Janeiro-based company said in an e-mailed statement.
Chilean state oil company Empresa Nacional de Petroleo and a unit of China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., Asia’s largest oil refiner, will bid with Petrobras to develop the ITT fields.”
¿¿So, yea, what’s left to say, other than, perhaps, to paraphrase an old hippie tune, Where do the children play in a neo-socialist economy?