President of Ecuadors legislative assembly says Yasuni cause “awoke our ecological conscience”

02 de septiembre de 2013 09:22

El Telegrafo: Ecuadors president Rafael Correa has asked the National Assembly to approve the extraction of oil in blocks 31 and 43 of the Yasuni-ITT, a protected area. What is your position on this request from the president?

Gabriela Rivadeneira, National Assembly president: His request has a basis in article 407 of the Constitution. The Assembly has the right to grant this permission to the Executive branch, if the executive can justify it. Id like to celebrate the fact that there is a citizen debate about this. It shows there has been a shift in the general consensus about environmental protection. The Yasuni managed to awaken out ecological conscience. The decision that we take will have to be based on legal, humane and rights-based reasoning.

ET: What is your process now?

GR: After receiving the proposal at 6 p.m. last Friday, Aug. 23, on Monday I gave the order that the Unidad Tecnica Legislativa (Legislative Technical Unit) prepare a report on the constitutionality of the executives proposal.

ET: What is the timeline for approving the resolution?

GR: We have at least 30 days. After that, there is a period of time to socialize the proposal and publicize its implications. Not just to assembly members, but to social organizations.

ET: What is your position on the social movements that reject the possible oil extraction in Yasuni?

GR: We have met with social organizations, collective, movements and groups of young people to receive proposals, channel them and see how we can move forward.

ET: What will happen to the non-contacted tribes who live in isolation in that area of the jungle?

*GR: We have the 2008 data that was collected about creating an intangible zone as a precautionary measure, to protect non-contacted peoples. Ecuador doesnt have the means right now to guarantee their existence, therefore, maintaining the intangible zone is a way to guarantee their rights. *

ET: The reports created by the Environment Secretariat do warn there will be environmental impact if there is drilling.

GR: All human activity has an impact on the environment. The Minister of the Environment will be summoned to speak to the PAIS legislative block to inform us about the cost of maintaining the Tasuni National Park and the intangible zone. The environmental flag of this revolution has a series of protection and controls it can resort to. *The government has criticized because it created the plan to save Yasuni from drilling, and now it it announcing the opposite. We wont allow our environmental flag to be taken from us, by outside political and partisan interests. We are going to continue to push, from the youth base, for the protection of the environment. *

ET: What will the Assembly do?

GR: The resolution that comes out of the Assembly will reiterate the need to improve the technology so the environmental impact is minimal. There is talk of subterranean extraction, so the surface flora and fauna can be sustained, but we have to have this discussion with the Ministry of Non-Renewable Resources and the state oil company, Petroamazonas, so they
can justify the use of technology that will reduce as much as possible the environmental impact.

ET: What about the idea of a referendum or public consultation?

GR: Thats a matter for the Constitutional court. Theyd have to guarantee that no article of the constitution would be violated. Then the national elections counsel, the CNE, would intervene once the request for a referendum was approved.

ET: Would the Assembly support the idea of a referendum?

GR: I cant speak to that, as president of the Assembly, because we havent debated the project. We need to make that decision together.

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