Government will not stop Yasuní oil production, Lasso says, in reversal of earlier statements
President Guillermo Lasso said Wednesday that oil production will continue in Block 43 of Yasuní National Park for the remainder of his presidency. He described as “inapplicable” results of the August 20 referendum ordering an end oil extraction in the area.
His comments, made in a meeting with leaders of the Waoranis and Kichwa Amazonian communities, are a reversal of a statement released following the election in which he said he would be “respectful of the will of the Ecuadorian people.”
At the Wednesday meeting, Lasso said there was not enough time remaining in his presidency to begin the process of ending Yasuni oil production activities. “We don’t want production of Block 43 to end during this administration and will not initiate the paperwork to terminate activities there.”
The statements caught supporters of the oil referendum by surprised. “We thought this has been resolved and now the president reverses his position and says he won’t abide by the democratic process mandating cessation of extraction activity,” the Yasunidos Collective said in a statement. “He appears to be following the script of Rafael Correa to put selfish financial interests above those of nature and the people.”
Calls by news media to the presidential press office for an explanation of the change of policy Wednesday afternoon went unanswered.
Lasso’s Wednesday comments represent his second reversal regarding Yasuní referendum. On Monday August 21, the day after the election, he questioned the legality of the referendum, saying that only residents of the area near oil operations should have been allowed to vote on the issue. Two days later, however, the Interior Ministry released a statement that the government would respect the vote.