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Guadalito y Chiquita against oil palm companies, Ecuador


The beginning of the oil palm industry in Ecuador dates to the late 1950s. However, it is in the 1990s when the oil palm monocultures expanded largely in the Northern provinces. Since then, large-scale oil palm cultivation has critically damaged the local environment as well as having a negative impact on the health of oil palm workers and the community members who are directly exposed to the agrotoxins in their daily water supplies. Within this context, in 2004 two communities (The Awa indigenous community of Guadalito and the afro-Ecuadorian one La Chiquita) concerned that the oil palm industry was poisoning their bodies and livelihoods, took legal action against four oil palm companies and the Environment Ministry. The lawsuit was supported by scientific data which demonstrated the contamination of water supplies.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Guadalito y Chiquita against oil palm companies, Ecuador
State or province:Esmeraldas
Location of conflict:San Lorenzo
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Palm oil
Project Details and Actors
Project details

In 2005 the oil palm monocultives extension in the province of Esmeraldas was 80 000 ha. This represented 38.5 percent of the total area for this crop in Ecuador. The same year for the San Lorenzo canton, oil palm monocultures covered 18 000 ha.

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Project area:80000
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:2003
Company names or state enterprises:Palmeras de los Andes S.A. from Ecuador
Palesema from Ecuador
Labores Agricolas
Relevant government actors:Environment Ministry
International and Finance InstitutionsInternational Labour Organization (ILO) from Switzerland
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Corporacion Gestion y Derecho Ambiental-Ecolex (Environmental Management and Law Corporation)., Alto-tropico, Corporacin Latinoamericana de Desarrollo-CLD (Latinoamerican Corporation of Development), Federacion de Centros Awa FCAE- (Aw Indigenous Federation)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Despite the fact that the Court judged in favor of the
communities, up to this day, however, the ministry has not taken the effective corrective action demanded by the Courts
resolution. Specifically those related with the restoration of the contaminated environment exhorted by the jury. Generally speaking, the state has failed to monitor and enforce companies compliance with the law.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Convention of ILO

Ecuadorian Constitution

Law of Environmental Management for the Prevention and Control of Environmental Contamination (Reglamento a la Ley de Gestin Ambiental para la Prevencin y Control para la Contaminacin Ambiental)

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

articulo en ICONO, Flacso,
[click to view]

Garca, Juan. S/f. Territorios ancestrales, identidad y palma: una lectura desde las comunidades afroecuatorianos. ALTROPICO.

y Sociedad Sueca para la Conservacin de la Naturaleza, Moreton-in-Marsh,

Naizot, Ane-Lise. 2011. Naturaleza(s), poder, sujeto(s) en territorio Aw: bios y thanatos en el margen socio ambiental. Tesis. Maestra en Ciencias Sociales con mencin en Estudios Socioambientales. Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales Flacso.

despojo y deforestacin, Movimiento Mundial por los Bosques tropicales, Novib

Reino Unido.

Carrere, R., Sokoudjuo, H., Buitrn, R., (2001). El amargo fruto de la palma aceitera:

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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