Ecuador: Got ecosystem protection in your constitution?

After many years of environmental destruction especially due to oil
extracting activities, Ecuador has approved a new constitution that is
the first in the world to extends “inalienable rights to nature.”
On September 29, 2008, the Associated Press (AP) reported that
Ecuador’s new constitution would “significantly expand leftist
President Rafael Correa’s powers.” It wasn’t until the end of a
15-paragraph article that the AP mentioned the new constitution –
approved by 65 per cent of voters – “guarantees free education through
university and social security benefits for stay-at-home mothers.”
Also missing from the AP’s report: any mention that Ecuador’s voters
had just ratified the world’s first “eco-constitution,” a pioneering
document that, for the first time in human history, extends
“inalienable rights to nature.” Not too long ago, Ecuador would have
seemed an unlikely nation tobecome the birthplace of Earth’s first green
constitution. To service its massive debt to US creditors, the World
Bank and the International Monetary Fund forced Ecuador to open its
Amazon forests to foreign oil companies. Nearly 30 years of drilling
enriched ChevronTexaco, desecrated the northern Amazon, and utterly
failed to improve the lives of millions of poor Ecuadoreans.

Amazon Watch estimates that
Texaco damaged 2.5 million acres of rainforest, left the landscape
pitted with 600 toxic waste pits, and polluted the rivers and streams
that some 30,000 people rely on. Cancer rates in the area where Texaco
operated are 130 per cent of the national norm, and childhood leukemia
occurs at a rate four times higher than in other parts of Ecuador. In
1990, the Siona, Secoya, Achuar, Huaorani, and other indigenous
forest-dwellers won title to three million acres of traditional
forestland, but the government retained rights to the minerals and
oil. In November 1993, indigenous communities filed a $1 billion
environmental lawsuit against Texaco, and subsequently demanded a
15-year moratorium on drilling, environmental reparations, corporate
indemnification, and a share of oil profits.

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