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Armadillo case: indigenous in voluntary isolation, Ecuador


The Tagaeri and Taromenane (TandT) are two indigenous groups that still live in voluntary isolation in the region which was once the ancestral Waorani territory. It is believed that both groups are relatives of the Waorani indigenous group. Yet, nowadays, this area is a complex mix of overlapping designations comprising among others the Yasuni National Park, the Waorani Ethnic Reserve, oil concessions, and more recently the so-called Zona Intangible- ZI (are free of extractive activities). This latter, was expressively created in 1999 in order to protect TandT from outside threats such illegal logging and the oil expansion. However, it was designated without fixed boundaries and over the years it was widely unenforced. This situation led to several bloody confrontations between illegal loggers and those groups. As a result, in 2006 a group of Ecuadorian activists petitioned the IACHR to intervene in the problem. It ruled in favor of them and called on the Ecuador government to adopt specific Precautionary Measures. The government responded positively and in 2007 set the ZI boundaries and launched an official uncontacted peoples policy. However, since 2008 until present this policy has been relegated to oil interests resulting in the bidding of the Armadillo oil field in 2011.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Armadillo case: indigenous in voluntary isolation, Ecuador
State or province:Orellana
Accuracy of locationLOW (Country level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Specific commodities:Crude oil
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Project area:14700
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:2008
Company names or state enterprises:Gran Colombia-Petrotesting - In February 2009 the block was granted to the consortium Gran Colombia-Petrotesting. However, the government revoked it the concession as they did not reach an agreement as a part of the re-negotiating contract process that it undertook during 2010-2011. Currently the block has been incorporated to the XI oil bidding round that will be resolved by the ends of the current year
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Non-Renewable Natural Resources, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Justice
International and Finance InstitutionsInter-American Court of Human Rights (CIDH)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Ecociencia, Accion Ecolgica, Confederacin de Nacionalidades de Indigenas del Ecuador-CONAIE (the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador), Centro de Derechos Econmicos y Sociales-CDES (Centre of Economic and Social Rights)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Oil spills, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Infectious diseases, Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Despite the ICHRs ruling in favor of Tagaery and Taromenani and prohibiting oil activities, the government is doing the opposite. It is commiting ethnicide.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Ecuadorian Constitution

Oil Law

Environmental Management Law

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Chavez, David. 2012. La situacin de los pueblos indgenas aislados en el Ecuador. Boletin de Alerta. In: (Last Access June 1, 2012).
[click to view]

Narvez, Roberto. 2012. Licitacin de bloque petrolero armadillo amenaza la supervivencia de los pueblo en aislamiento tagaeri taromenane. In: (last access june 3, 2012).
[click to view]

Personal interview with the former coordinator of the Plan of Precautionary Measures (January 16, 2012).

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

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Meta information
Contributor:Sara Latorre
Last update08/04/2014
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