Posted 53 days ago
Although this is certainly not my kind of essay, I do have to appreciate Ushigua's dedication to his people and way of life. Society consumes anything that doesn't fit the norm, or inhibits its growth in any way, and unfortunately the Sapara Nation and Ushigua experience that first hand. It was certainly sobering to read his first hand account and view on the world.
On the other hand, I thought a lot about the following passage:
In 2011 the government of Ecuador divided our ancestral land into oil blocks and in January 2016 they sold the rights to blocks 79 and 83 to Andes Petroleum (a state-owned consortium of the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and the China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec)). Our prophecies foretold that the day would come when foreigners would try to invade our territory and we would have to resist or be wiped out. Two great spirits clashed: the Chinese dragon and our Piatsaw, the spirit of our people. We successfully fought them with the help of allies in North America and we succeeded in keeping the oil in the ground.
In the obvious environmental sense, this is certainly a huge win both for the environment and for the Spara Nation. But this is also potentially a crucial loss for Ecuador as a nation in the global economic arena. Oil fields may have led to economic growth. I'm not saying that I believe this is the best solution, but stick with me here.
"[W]ith the help of allies in North America" made me think a lot about America's inevitable imperialism. We love to dicate how things should be across the globe, and our economic and political power certainly helps us push our agenda. In this case, Americans pushed to keep oil in the ground for both environmental and social reasons (preserving the Sapara Nation's land). This of course seems like a win on the face of the issue, but if we were to calculate how these impedes Ecuador's growth can we really be morally justified in doing so? Could our economic prosperity, achieved by pushing the most emissions into the atmosphere out of any country on the planet, be based on oil fields? Could our position in global society be due to exactly what we are preventing Ecuadorians from accessing?
I think it's an interesting question to consider: could this new wave of environmentalism be a sort of neo-neo-imperialistic ideology where we are actively preventing economic growth in developing nations? I know that sounds somewhat like an alt-right talking point, but I think it's something to consider at least.
I thought of a similar thread when reading this fantastic essay on the Gambian fishing industry by Ian Urbina in The New Yorker.