Paro Perspectives: Joel

CONAIE is the Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador and it is a large organization composed of representatives of various indigenous groups in Ecuador and they advocate for more indigenous rights. They do this most often by shutting down main roads to grind ordinary life to a halt until their demands are met.

One of the demands that CONAIE had with this Paro was the reduction of gas prices and increase of other subsidies, such as for other methods of transportation and for farmers. Although gas prices here are significantly lower than the US prices, it’s important to note that the monthly income in Ecuador is significantly lower than the monthly income in the US. Produce prices are also much lower than in the US and the farms are also a distance away from the towns, so when a good that is sold for a low price and there is are high costs of production and transportation, it makes sense that the farmers (especially indigenous farmers) want to ensure they can make a living off of farming by reducing production costs. Other Ecuadorians I have spoken to have also expressed that they thought gasoline prices were too high, and as a result, they try to conserve gas by whatever means possible. For example, I have only seen AC used in cars one or two times my entire time here, since using AC increases the amount of gasoline used and therefore the price of the journey.

One other demands that CONAIE has is imposing a moratorium on expanding oil prospecting in the Amazon while also giving reparations to the communities that have been affected by the oil industries. I think this is one of the most important demands since it could have serious positive effects for the future of the rainforests if it is met, however I doubt this demand would be accepted since it has serious ramifications for the Ecuadorian economy. A lot of the Ecuador’s GDP is due to oil production, so halting the expansion of the oil industry could stop (or severely hinder) the growth of the Ecuadorian economy, even though most of the deforestation and environmental damage to the Amazon can be directly traced back to the oil industry. Most of this damage is caused by irresponsible disposal of drilling/fracking wastewater. This contaminated water then pollutes the rivers killing the fish and plants that live within, and also causes cancer in the local communities that drink from the river. Accepting this demand would give some compensation for these communities that have been devastated by the oil industry, however I doubt that this current administration has any plan to admit any fault or wrongdoing. Furthermore, I am also unsure of how much money would actually go to each person, since so many people have been impacted and there isn’t as much capital available to the administration since Ecuador is a country with a fairly small GDP.

-Joel Yoder