Ecuador’s historic vote to leave the Amazon rainforest’s oil reserves underground contrasts sharply with the results of the presidential elections held on the same day, and leaves the troubled country facing an economic dilemma.
On 20 August, the country voted by a significant margin – 58% to 41% – in favour of leaving the oil reserves of the Amazon’s Yasuní National Park “unearthed”. The victory of ‘yes to Yasuní’ was a major triumph for environmental campaigners – and a major problem for the state. It means Ecuador’s state oil company Petroecuador will no longer be able to exploit oil reserves, costing the country an estimated $600m a year in revenue.
The two presidential candidates who will now compete in the run-off on 15 October have both favoured extractivism in the past, specifically metallic mining and the oil industry, key sectors of the Ecuadorian economy. There are few differences between the two candidates.