On Wednesday November 28, 2012, Ecuador began an international licensing round for 13 oil blocks - nearly ten million acres - of untouched south-central Amazonian territory as indigenous leaders took to the streets in Quito to protest petroleum concessions on their lands.
Hundreds of indigenous protesters gathered outside the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Quito last week during the VII Annual Meeting of Oil and Energy, which marked the beginning of the licensing process.
Organized by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) and the Confederation of Amazonian Indigenous Nationalities (CONFENIAE), the protest included representatives from seven indigenous nationalities who expressed concern about the lack of consultation in the concessions process and the potential environmental and social impacts of drilling. AmazonWatch reports that indigenous protesters were met by military, police, private security, and pepper spray. AmazonWatch also posted several photos of the confrontation on their website.
According to Earth Island, CONFENIAE alleges that the undersecretary of hydrocarbons entered Achuar, Kichwa, and Sapara indigenous communities without permission in October and held consultations with the local people. However, CONFENIAE holds that these consultations were illegitimate because they involved a select group of individuals, not the larger decision-making structures of the communities.