For Immediate Release
Contact: US:  Kevin Koenig  310-420-8245
November 12, 2002
Ecuador:  Natalia Arias   593-99-827-795


 Residents and Environmentalists Paralyze OCP Pipeline Construction in Mindo

Community Members and International Observer Arrested

(Mindo, Ecuador)-Approximately one hundred Mindo residents, students, and
members of the Italian Green Party peacefully occupied a construction site
of Ecuador's new OCP pipeline inside the Mindo Nambillo Cloudforest Reserve
today to protest ongoing construction through the ecologically sensitive
region.  Citizens blocked construction workers and machinery from entering
into the site throughout the day and were sprayed with tear gas in
skirmishes with military police.

Meanwhile, members of Acción por la Vida ascended to the cloudforest
ridgeline known as "Guarumos" to re-occupy their private property where OCP
construction continues illegally.  After spending roughly ten hours on the
ridgeline, three representatives-Mindo residents Cesar Fiallo and Cesar
Patiño, and Italian Green Party representative Giuseppe De Marzo-were
arrested and are being transported to a central detention center in Quito.

The Mindo Nambillo Cloudforest Reserve, through which the OCP is being
built, is an unparalleled epicenter of biodiversity and home to more than
450 species of birds-46 threatened by extinction. The Mindo community,
opposed to the pipeline's passage through this rare ecosystem and inspired
by forest defense tactics used in North America, staged a three month tree
sit earlier this year at Guarumos to physically block construction.   Dozens
of peaceful residents and international observers have been arrested over
the last several months supporting efforts to stop pipeline construction,
including US environmentalist Julia Butterfly Hill, best known for her 738
day tree-sit atop a 1000-year old threatened California redwood tree.

Construction in the area has intensified in recent weeks, and, according to
local residents, so has environmental damage.  Heavy machinery is now being
used on the steep and narrow slopes of the fragile ridgeline despite being
prohibited by the original environmental impact statement.  "We will not
stop fighting the construction of the OCP pipeline through Mindo because the
fate of our forests, our drinking water, and our economic livelihood is at
stake.  The project is having irreversible environmental impacts.  OCP is
the criminal, not us," said Jennifer Patiño of Acción por la Vida.

The controversial pipeline would transport heavy crude from the country's
eastern rainforest region to the Pacific Coast, placing fragile ecosystems -
including 11 protected areas - and dozens of communities along the 300-mile
route in jeopardy. In order to fill the new pipeline, Ecuador would have to
double its current oil production, setting off an unprecedented boom in new
oil exploration that could lead to the irreversible loss and destruction of
some the country's last remaining old growth rainforest and territories of
isolated indigenous peoples.

A recent report by the former Chief of the Environmental Department of the
World Bank provides conclusive evidence that the German Bank Westdeutsche
Landesbank (WestLB) violated its own policies in loaning $900 million to the
OCP project which fails to comply with World Bank environmental and social
guidelines.  The independent report found, "substantial non-compliance with
all four applicable WBG's [World Bank Group] Social and Environmental
Safeguard Policies." Specifically, the report found violations of World Bank
Operational Policies on Environmental Assessment, Natural Habitats,
Involuntary Resettlement, and Indigenous Peoples.  The loan has sparked
public outrage in the German state of North Rhine Westphalia (NWR), which
holds a 43 percent stake in WestLB.

According to government sources, the majority of Amazon crude that will flow
through the OCP pipeline is destined for markets on the West Coast of the
United States. The OCP Consortium includes: Alberta Energy - Encana
(Canada), Occidental Petroleum (OXY- USA), AGIP (Italy), Repsol-YPF (Spain),
Perez Compaanc (Argentina), and Techint (Argentina). Citibank and JP Morgan
Chase have also come under fire for their financial role in the project.