World Bulletin / News Desk
Environmentalists in Ecuador have successfully campaigned to have government plans to conduct oil exploration in the Amazon rainforest taken to a national referendum.
Yasunidos, an organisation of environmentalist and indigenous groups, claim to have collected 727,947 signatures from Ecuadorians as well as people from as far away as Australia, Mexico and Europe to let the people decide whether or not the Yasuni National Park should be opened to further oil exploration.
Carla Espin, a Yasunidos member, told reporters in the Ecuadorian capital Quito, "With these signatures we are certain that the popular consultation vote will go ahead".
Oil exploration in the area has been restricted since 1970, with rich nations paying Ecuador to preserve untouched parts of the rainforest. However, last year President Rafael Correa backed out of the agreement, opting to expand exploration projects in the hope that new oil discoveries would be used to alleviate poverty in the country.
Environmentalists immediately criticized the plan, stating fears over the damage that would be caused to one of the most biodiverse regions in the world which is home of many species of birds, monkeys and amphibians.
The rainforest is also home to many native tribes who have not had contact with the outside world for decades.
The Latin American country's Constitutional Court must now decide whether or not to endorse the referendum.Last Mod: 11 Nisan 2014, 16:06