Oil Sparks in the Amazon

Oil Sparks in the Amazon: Local Conflicts, Indigenous Populations, and Natural Resources

Patricia I. Vásquez
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    Oil Sparks in the Amazon
    Book Description:

    For decades, studies of oil-related conflicts have focused on the effects of natural resource mismanagement, resulting in great economic booms and busts or violence as rebels fight ruling governments over their regions' hydrocarbon resources. InOil Sparks in the Amazon, Patricia I. Vasquez writes that while oil busts and civil wars are common, the tension over oil in the Amazon has played out differently, in a way inextricable from the region itself.Oil disputes in the Amazon primarily involve local indigenous populations. These groups' social and cultural identities differ from the rest of the population, and the diverse disputes over land, displacement, water contamination, jobs, and wealth distribution reflect those differences. Vasquez spent fifteen years traveling to the oilproducing regions of Latin America, conducting hundreds of interviews with the stakeholders in local conflicts. She analyzes fifty-five social and environmental clashes related to oil and gas extraction in the Andean countries (Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia). She also examines what triggers local hydrocarbons disputes and offers policy recommendations to resolve or prevent them.Vasquez argues that each case should be analyzed with attention to its specific sociopolitical and economic context. She shows how the key to preventing disputes that lead to local conflicts is to address structural flaws (such as poor governance and inadequate legal systems) and nonstructural flaws (such as stakeholders' attitudes and behavior) at the outset. Doing this will require more than strong political commitments to ensure the equitable distribution of oil and gas revenues. It will require attention to the local values and culture as well.

    eISBN: 978-0-8203-4638-0
    Subjects: Political Science, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-x)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-xii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xxii)
    (pp. 1-10)

    ON JUNE 5, 2009, at least thirty-two people were killed and hundreds injured when security forces clashed with Indigenous Peoples in the bloodiest social unrest Peru has experienced in recent history.¹ Some eight hundred Indigenous demonstrators took over oil and gas infrastructure, blocked access roads, and interrupted exports from the country’s main oil production area, located in the Amazonian province of Bagua. The clashes followed seven weeks of street protests by some thirty thousand Indigenous Peoples opposing a series of new government decrees that facilitated the sale of the lands they lived on to oil, gas, and timber developments. Carrying...

  6. CHAPTER 1 Tracing Oil- and Gas-Related Conflicts
    (pp. 11-35)

    CONFLICTS AROUND hydrocarbons are not new in the three countries under study, and they can be traced back to the beginning of oil operations in Colombia at the beginning of the twentieth century. But it was not until the large oil discoveries of the 1970s and 1990s that the dynamics of the oil-related conflicts as we know them today started to develop, particularly in the western Amazon region. It was then that the discovery of large oil reserves turned Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru into oil and gas producers, and the first seeds of oil-related conflicts were planted in the region....

  7. CHAPTER 2 Indigenous Peoples and Natural Resource Development
    (pp. 36-52)

    THE HYDROCARBONS-RELATED conflicts in the Andean countries analyzed in this book involve mainly Indigenous populations. This minority group is the poorest and most marginalized in Peru and Ecuador, and to a lesser extent in Colombia, where Afro-Colombians are the largest, most vulnerable group. Indigenous Peoples remain largely underrepresented in the domestic political and institutional life of all three countries.

    This situation persists despite a growing movement for the recognition of the rights of Indigenous Peoples that made major gains in the past two decades, both domestically and internationally. Indigenous demands go beyond economic grievances and include a right to proper...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Structural Causes of Local Conflicts
    (pp. 53-88)

    IMPERFECT GOVERNANCE SYSTEMS that preclude participatory mechanisms or prevent revenues from being fairly distributed are the source of many oil-related local conflicts. Also contributing to these disputes are malfunctioning legal systems or a weak presence of the state in hydrocarbons producing areas. These flaws are structural in nature because they are usually embedded in the core of the democratic machinery and are difficult to modify.

    Latin American countries have gone a long way in adopting and consolidating democratic government systems. Since the end of the 1980s, democracies, defined in 1942 by the minimalist economist Joseph Schumpeter as based on the...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Transient Triggers of Local Conflicts
    (pp. 89-137)

    THIS CHAPTER ANALYZES the dynamics of a particular set of stressors that affect the intensity or the duration of conflicts. These conflict triggers are normally restricted to the physical region where the oil or gas is being developed and usually involve the stakeholders in the oil project. If left unattended these stressors may turn into important destabilizing forces. But in important ways they are different from the structural flaws described in chapter 3. These types of subnational triggers of local oil conflicts may be easier to address if tackled promptly, because they are more transitory and less embedded in the...

    (pp. 138-144)

    FROM 2000 TO 2010 Latin America experienced an unprecedented increase in the number of conflicts related to natural resources in general and oil and gas in particular. This tendency has been especially pronounced in Peru, and to a lesser extent in Ecuador and Colombia. Many of the disputes were related to oil and natural gas reserves located in the Amazon basin and its surrounding areas, home to large numbers of Indigenous Peoples. These historically marginalized groups have for years maintained numerous grievances that have largely gone unnoticed by the rest of the population. A rapidly developing and increasingly assertive movement...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 145-150)
    (pp. 151-168)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 169-187)