Every Wednesday academic lectures are held by the executive director of CEDEI Steve Wille. This week's lecture was based on the economic and environmental consequences of Ecuador's oil reserves as well as other cultural and socio-poltical issues, globally. I found the lecture to be really fascinating and thought I'd share with you some facts.
-oil drilling began in the 1970's this caused the birth, rise, and eventual demise of the Ecuadorian middle class, public income quadrupled in 3 years
-during the 1970's Ecuador's debt sat a low 200 million dollars, now the debt is close to 13 billion
-social programs that thrived during the 1970's as a result of the increase of wealth that was derived from the oil industry are now non-existent
-educators' salaries have suffered the most as result of Ecuador's economic decline
-during the wealth boom of the 1970's, taxes were donw away with and have since never been re-implemented
-Ecuador has had little success with a democratic, the citizenry consensus is based in the promotion of a return to a militaristic rule
-Texaco bought off and bribed government inspectors so that they did not have to abide by Ecuador's strict environmental policies protecting primarily the Amazon rainforest
-China currently owns 1/3 of Ecuador's oil pipelines
-The industrialization of Ecuador has caused the obliteration of several indigenous tribes, their languages are no longer spoken
-3,000 indigenous cultures have been lost within the past fifty years--world wide
-Social Consequences of the Ecuadorian Oil Industry:
- more poverty
- more concentrated areas or populations of wealth
- higher inflation
- indigenous cultures are disappearing
- creation of roads, colonization--destroying rainforest
- oil dependence has harmed agriculture, the development and transfer of technologies
One question that was posed during the lecture was the notion of...Is a culture's attempt to adapt really disguising or promoting their demise?
Ecuador does not utilize it own oil and although the current president of Ecuador just instated a ban on oil exploration in the rainforest it is doubted that his policy will be maintained because ultimately, Ecuador does not have the resources to NOT be oil dependent.
Another interesting topic addressed today involved the Chevron-Texaco billion-dollar lawsuit that alleges that Texaco dumped more than 18 billion gallons of toxic waste directly into the rainforest over a 26-year period of time. This damage is thirty times larger than the size of the Exxon Valdez disaster. In addition to the billion dollar lawsuit, the people of Ecuador are also demanding an additional 6 million dollars to cover the cost of clean up.
So yeah, interesting stuff, I thought.