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Ecuadorian Military Attacks Workers & Residents Protesting Amazon Oil Pipeline

Kevin Koenig, with the Oil Campaign project of Amazon Watch, spoke with Between The Lines' Denise Manzari about how the Ecuadorian government's recent violent reaction may set a dangerous precedent for those who continue to put their lives on the line by blocking the pipeline's passage.
Ecuadorian Military Attacks Workers and Residents Protesting Amazon Oil Pipeline

Interview by Between The Lines' Denise Manzari.

On Feb. 27, thousands of striking construction workers and local residents took to the streets in the northern Amazon to protest continued oil drilling. But the protesters were attacked by Ecuador's armed forces with tear gas and rifles. Local newspapers reported that three children have died by asphyxiation from the tear gas and many others were wounded.

The two Amazonian provinces, Sucumbios and Orellana, once pristine rainforests, have been paralyzed since Feb. 18, when a general strike was called for by workers, residents, and local government leaders. They demanded fair and just compensation for the serious impacts of the oil pipeline and desperately needed funds for roads, hospitals and clean, running water.

Demonstrators erected roadblocks and have been occupying over 60 oil wells and five refineries, halting all construction on the pipeline and bringing oil production in the region to a near standstill.

The oil project had been delayed for 10 years, mostly due to Ecuador's economic and political instability. But President Gustavo Noboa's administration gave the green light to begin construction in June 2001 to the OCP Consortium, Ltd.

Kevin Koenig is with the Oil Campaign project of Amazon Watch, based in California. He spoke with Between The Lines' Denise Manzari about how the Ecuadorian government's recent violent reaction may set a dangerous precedent for those who continue to put their lives on the line by blocking the pipeline's passage(A RealAudio Version of this interview may be found at www.btlonline.org).

Amazon Watch may be contacted at (310) 455-0617 or visit their Web site at www.amazonwatch.org

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