In what was described as a series of “private visits,” U.S. actor Leonardo DiCaprio met with President Lenín Moreno and officials from the Galapagos Islands on March 13 and 14 on Santa Cruz Island and in Quito. According to a source in the president’s office, the discussions focused on extension of the no-fishing preserve around the Galapagos, oil drilling in the Amazon and a donation of Covid-19 vaccines.
According to the pilot of DiCaprio’s private jet, the actor asked that the visits be kept low-key with no news conferences or public announcements. In the Galapagos visit, DiCaprio stayed at Pikaia Lodge on Santa Cruz Island, considered one the world’s top environmental-friendly resorts, where he met with Norman Ray, president of the Galapagos Governing Council. In his brief visit to Quito, he met with Amazon indigenous leaders as well as with Moreno.
DiCaprio has made several visits to Ecuador since 2010, primarily in support of indigenous communities in the Amazon who oppose oil drilling their region. In 2016, he angered former president Rafael Correa when he made a $3.4 million donation to keep oil production out of the Amazon. Correa called DiCaprio a persona non grata and insisted he “stay out of Ecuador’s business.” In response, DiCaprio wrote that Correa was an “anti-environmentalist set on exploiting the Amazon for oil and gold.” (For more on DiCaprio’s visit, click here.)
In recent social media posts, DiCaprio has advocating the extension of the ocean preserve around the Galagapos Islands, calling fishing missions by hundreds of Chinese vessels “the rape of the oceans.” He has also called on Moreno to reduce oil drilling and mining in sensitive environmental areas. During his visit, it is believed that DiCaprio committed a new multi-million dollar donation to environmental causes in Ecuador as well as to the purchase of an undisclosed number of Covid-19 vaccine doses.