Why Is Ecuador Selling Its Economic and Environmental Future to China?, by Andrew Ross
The slick, oily underside of Correa’s “citizens’ revolution.”
At the point where the lazy, black-water Cuyabeno runs into the faster currents of the Aguarico, carrying a chill from their Andean source, sandbars stretch out from the verdant banks. These are the Playas de Cuyabeno, and the name has attached itself to the indigenous Cofan community in this region, deep inside Ecuador’s portion of the Amazon Basin. Until very recently, an assortment of thatched, wooden dwellings sat above the river. Today it has been replaced by an orderly hamlet of evenly spaced, two-story, prefab houses, all steel and white plaster, connected by improbably clean roads, and sprinkled with basketball courts and childrens’ playgrounds. This is Ecuador’s first Comunidad de Milenio (Millenium Community), a $21 million benefit from the proceeds of the Pañacocha oil field that borders the community. Under the terms of the country’s 2010 Hydrocarbon Law, a portion of the royalties from oil production must be ploughed back into the communities affected by drilling and extraction.