Under pressure to preserve the environment while at the same time ease the poverty of his people, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has come up with an unusual and novel solution.
President Rafael Correa has startled Wall Street with talk of not paying Ecuador’s $10.3 billion foreign debt. He wants wealthy nations to pay Ecuador $350 million a year in exchange for leaving an estimated 1 billion barrels of oil under the ground in the pristine Yasuni rain forest.
“I think oil has brought us more bad than good,” said Correa during a recent visit to the bustling Amazonian oil town of El Coca. “We need to do something about it.”
The plan involves creating a trust fund for donations or accepting debt pardons from other countries or multilateral lenders such as the International Monetary Fund. The $350 million would constitute about half the annual revenues Ecuador thinks it could make from extracting oil from the field, partly located inside the 2.4 million-acre (982,000-hectare) Yasuni National Park.
Whilst environmentalists have celebrated the idea as a way to preserve a delicate environment without creating an economic burden for the cash-strapped nation, critics wonder if the politically unstable Ecuador, which relies on oil for nearly half of its export revenues, can keep this promise to the international community.
Is this a good way to protect Ecuador and the climate? What do people think?