In 2007, the government of Ecuador approved an initiative to preserve 3791 sq mi of biologically rich territory and rain forests which has become known as the Yasuni National Park located on the eastern border of the country. The park as it is currently constituted, represents an area 9% larger than Yellowstone National Park in the United States. Spurring the need for preservation of the area, is an interest in developing the region to extract an estimated 800 million barrels of oil within the park. The oil in the park represents 20% of the South American nation’s total oil reserves.
Since then, Ecuador’s controversial and heavy-handed president, Rafael Correa, has reneged on the agreement despite promises of over US$3.5 billion in funding by an international consortium (including the European Union) to support the park. He has threatened to liquidate the initial funds in the trust, and has blamed his decision on a lack of support for the park, despite $13.3 million already donated toward the creation of the park.
There is hope that a referendum will prevent Correa’s unilateral decision to terminate the contract.
Correa’s government is also facing protests by a group of indigenous women protesting the government’s policies regarding the development of natural resources in the country.