Yasunidos is an ecological collective made up of young people, students, citizens, artists, families, as well as environmental, animal rights and feminist activists, which was founded in August 2013 as a civil society response to the cancellation of the Yasuni ITT initiative by the Ecuadorian government, and its decision to extract oil in the Yasuni National Park. The park is renowned as one of the areas with the highest biodiversity in the world and it is home to indigenous peoples, among them uncontacted peoples. Yasuni is a national park situated in the Ecuadorian Amazon region in the provinces of Pastaza and Orellana comprising an area of about 982,000 hectares. Since 1979, it has been recognised as a national park and in 1989, an even wider area was designated as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO for its cultural and natural wealth. Yasunidos defines itself as a peaceful movement, which aims to protect life, human rights, the respect of the Ecuadorian constitution, and the defence and preservation of the Ecuadorian ancestral natural heritage.
The campaign carried out in recent years by the collective Yasunidos is a response to the extractive policies in the Yasuni Park implemented by the Ecuadorian government since 2013. Soon after its creation, Yasunidos deposited to the Ecuadorian Constitutional Court the proposal for a constitutional referendum, asking not to extract oil from underground the Yasuni Park. From that moment onwards, they started requesting forms to collect signatures for the referendum (the objective was 600,000 signatures). The forms were submitted by the relevant authorities only in October, and Yasunidos could then start collecting signatures. The international campaign “Yasuni depende de ti! #YoFirmoPorTi” started and the target was reached thanks to the support of many international associations and celebrities. However, the relevant authorities rejected most of the signatures and declared that they had been collected in an incorrect, deceptive and counterfeit way, and therefore could not be used for the aims of the referendum. The constant attacks to the work of Yasunidos is also worth mentioning: criminalization and incarceration of activists and other groups supporting the campaign and the referendum, the shutting down of associations close to Yasunidos, accusations of fraud and having cheated the electoral authorities. In September 2017, another request for a popular consultation was submitted and the campaign #YasuniEnLaConsulta was launched.
The signatures collected for the first referendum did not allow the population to express themselves on the question promoted by the Ecuadorian organization, due to the reasons mentioned above. In May 2014, Yasunidos denounced the violation of the Ecuadorian citizens’ political rights to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Since the collective was founded, the fight that Yasunidos has been carrying out has reached a level of global mobilization with associations and groups of activists from all over the world supporting the Ecuadorian cause. The referendum will now take place in 2018, and the Ecuadorian people will be able to express themselves democratically on the question elaborated by Yasunidos.
The great success obtained by the collective so far has been the activation of social mobilization processes, which promote a participated democracy from the bottom-up.
Session “Paris agreement and climate change, regional and national criticalities – Yasunidos Campaign”
Jorge Espinosa – Yasunidos/Acción Ecológica (Ecuador)