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
NameGuadalito y Chiquita against oil palm companies, Ecuador
SiteSan 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)Land acquisition conflicts
Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Specific Commodities
Palm oil
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsIn 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.

Project Area (in hectares)80000
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date2003
Company Names or State EnterprisesPalmeras de los Andes S.A. from Ecuador
Palesema from Ecuador
Labores Agricolas
Relevant government actorsEnvironment Ministry
International and Financial InstitutionsInternational Labour Organization (ILO) from Switzerland
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersCorporacion 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)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Forms of MobilizationCommunity-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-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (victory for environmental justice)
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.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 and Materials

Ecuadorian Constitution

Convention of ILO

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)


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

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.

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

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

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

Reino Unido.


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Meta Information
ContributorSara Latorre
Last update08/04/2014