Amazon’s Yasuni National Park Caught in Debate over Oil Exploration

Americas Now

Yasuni National Park

A Latin American park is in the middle of a national debate. The Yasuni National Park in the Amazon may be opened to further oil exploration. But environmentalists in Ecuador say they’ve collected enough signatures for a referendum to stop any drilling. Over seven-billion dollars’ worth of oil is buried beneath its land. And extracting that oil could mean destroying the habitat for thousands of animals.

Amazon's Yasuni National Park Caught in Debate over Oil Exploration

Amazon's Yasuni National Park Caught in Debate over Oil Exploration

A Latin American park is in the middle of a national debate. The Yasuni National Park in the Amazon may be opened to further oil exploration. But environmentalists in Ecuador say they've collected enough signatures for a referendum to stop any drilling. Over seven-billion dollars’ worth of oil is buried beneath its land. And extracting that oil could mean destroying the habitat for thousands of animals.

At the intersection of the Andes, the equator, and the Amazon lays Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park.  The dense tropical rainforest is home to jaguars, marmosets, giant otters and indigenous tribes, as well as a previously untapped natural resource. Oil. Even though it could bring billions of dollars to the poverty-stricken country, environmentalists, scientists, and world citizens alike are urging the Ecuadorean government to protect the area. Back in 2007, Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa pledged to leave the oil reserves untouched if the country was able to raise enough funds through a worldwide initiative to justify not drilling and offset their economic loss.

Last year, much to the dismay of the many, the plan was considered a failure and a motion to begin drilling was set forth.  However, President Correa, in accordance with Ecuador’s constitution, said that if activists were able to gather 584,000 signatures, opposed to drilling, on a petition, a referendum would be triggered. As of mid-April, environmental activists called the YASunidos submitted a petition with supposedly over 760,000 names. The National Electoral Council of Ecuador is currently working to verify all signatures. If successful, the referendum could be a rude awakening to corporations poised to make millions in profits from Ecuador’s prized national park.