LatinNews Daily - 25 August 2023

In brief: Ecuador’s gov’t backtracks over Yasuní referendum

* Ecuador’s government led by President Guillermo Lasso has backtracked on comments by Energy Minister Fernando Santos Alvite, who had said that the government would not respect the results of a 20 August referendum in which voters backed a proposal to ban oil drilling in the Yasuní national park. The communications secretary for the presidency yesterday tweeted “reaffirming [the government’s] commitment to respect the democratic decision of Ecuadoreans… regarding oil extraction in Yasuní”. The statement pointed to the constitutional court guidelines on the referendum, which stated that if the proposal was approved there should be a “progressive and orderly withdrawal of all activities related to oil extraction within a period of no more than one year from the notification of the official results”. In the 20 August referendum, Ecuadoreans voted by 59%-41% to approve a ban on oil drilling in the Yasuní national park – one of the most biodiverse areas in the world where some of Ecuador’s richest oil deposits, the Ishpingo, Tambococha, and Tiputini (ITT) oilfields, are located.

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