Yasuni National Forest -- a one-page fact sheet
Before I blog about Wellington, our sponsored child in Ecuador, I'm presenting this 60-second video and link that I feel serve as dramatic backdrop for a key issue in Ecuador: saving the Yasuni National Forest from oil drilling. President Rafael Correa, in office since January 2007, has proposed a "carbon offsetting" concept whereby wealthy nations would pay Ecuador $350 million a year in exchange for leaving an estimated 1 billion barrels of oil under the ground in the pristine Yasuni rainforest.
Ecuador is a country on shaky footing and Correa is the eighth president in 10 years in Ecuador. He is embroiled in a power struggle with Congress and opposition lawmakers who say he is scaring off oil investment. The U.S. military base at Manta is the most prominent American military outpost in South America, and to the Bush administration it's a critical component in the war on drugs in the Andes. And if Correa gets his way it will be gone by next year. With Manta being a flash point in a regional debate over the limits of American power in Latin America, it's hard to conceive of the U.S. going along with Correa's proposal to preserve the Yasuni rainforest. But the time has come, and is nearly passing, when we must consider radical ideas to counter global warming, and first-world countries need to get ready to sacrifice for the long-term cause.
Correa isn't perfect but he's no slouch. He received a Master's degree in Economics from the Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium), and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (United States) in 2001. We don't have much time before his Yasuni proposal is off the table, as everything I've read on this indicates a 2008 deadline.
Additional information can be found at 2008 Yasuni Depends on You!