Big Oil, Little People
by Louisa Johnson
ABSTRACT: Oil development in Ecuador has left a toxic legacy on the environment and indigenous communities living near the oil fields. This exploitation has led to serious environmental, health, and cultural impacts creating and perpetuating an atrocity environment. This paper explores the root causes of this atrocity environment including the colonial exploitations of natural resources, the neoliberal policies surrounding oil extraction in Ecuador, the marginalization of Ecuador’s indigenous peoples, and the Ecuadorian economy. The second part of the paper discusses potential solutions for avoiding future atrocity environments including paying to keep oil in the ground and the application of traditional knowledge. Ultimately, I argue that the integration of traditional knowledge into the policies surrounding oil development would prove to be the most effective, long-term solution.
KEYWORDS: Neoliberalism, oil development, Ecuador, indigenous knowledge, sumak kawsay