ESEP 13:39-47 (2013)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esep00142

Undermining democratic capacity: myth-making and oil development in Amazonian Ecuador

Susan Reider*, Robert Wasserstrom

Terra Group, 86 Cambridge Drive, Hershey, Pennsylvania 17033, USA

ABSTRACT: Over the past 20 yr, a standard narrative has evolved to describe the impacts of oil development in Ecuador?s Amazon region. According to this narrative, international oil companies exploited weak government oversight to destroy the rain forest and harm native communities. Eventually, Amazonian Indians and environmentalists joined together to fight ?big oil? in courts of law and public opinion. This story has been told in countless international campaigns, Internet posts, news and magazine articles, and even in a recent movie. Among North American and European academics, plaintiffs? lawyers, and journalists, it has now become almost a certainty. Yet many of its assumptions and implications remain unexamined. Are the essential facts true? Should private companies be held accountable for sovereign decisions made by government about oil development and indigenous rights? Why is this discourse so popular in the US, Canada, and Europe, but dismissed by many Ecuadorian social scientists? Using historical evidence and 3 case studies, we conclude that the standard narrative as it stands today obscures more than it explains and may undermine democratic governance in Ecuador.


KEY WORDS: Ecuador · Advocacy · Amazon · Oil · Tetete · Sansahuari


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Cite this article as: Reider S, Wasserstrom R (2013) Undermining democratic capacity: myth-making and oil development in Amazonian Ecuador. Ethics Sci Environ Polit 13:39-47. https://doi.org/10.3354/esep00142

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