Luis Garcia Falcon – Whitten Research Fund 2023-2024

Luis Garcia FalconLuis Garcia Falcon

Florida International University

Winner of the Norm and Sibby Whitten Research Fund 2023-2024


Napo Gold Rush: Perceptions and Responses to Mining in the Ecuadorian Amazon

Since 2017, Ecuador has had three consecutive center-right governments who have continued to promote Ecuador’s extractive industries as the future of its development without the social and wealth redistribution programs under Correa’s “Buen Vivir” campaign. Additionally, Ecuador’s economy has faced a recession and an overall increase in austerity that has led to worsening economic conditions for many Ecuadorians, especially those in rural areas like the Ecuadorian Amazon, wherein the majority are indigenous peoples who depend on volatile employment and are one of Ecuador’s most impoverished ethnic nationalities. While also stewarding one of the most biodiverse regions on Earth and the remaining areas of primary forest and rivers that are deeply intertwined and necessary for the practice of Amazonian indigenous nationalities. This leads one to ask: Has the loss of the socio-economic benefits associated with Ecuador’s neo-extractivist development model (Buen Vivir) led to a resurgence of illegal extractive practices in the Ecuadorian Amazon? Furthermore, other questions arise, such as did the loss of “Buen Vivir“-era social programs motivate resistance to neo-extractivist projects amongst Amazonian Indigenous Communities? How do Amazonian indigenous activists utilize indigenous knowledge to inform on the varying interpretations of “Buen Vivir” and institute its principles to pursue legal and social mobilization against the state or private enterprises? Thus, this study will pursue ethnographic methods of semi-structured interviews and participant observations in the Ecuadorian Amazon and specifically Napo Province, where a resurgence of extractive practices is occurring in the wake of a neo-extractivist administration.

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