Activists have been collecting signatures to try to force a referendum on drilling in Yasuni National Park. In excess of 700,000 signatures were collected, more than what was required, but the process for validating the signatures is now mired in controversy, according to a special report to Mongabay, a pro-conservation website.
Environmental activists in Ecuador are accusing the country’s National Electoral Council of breaking into sealed boxes to interfere with completed petitions that call for a referendum on oil drilling in the Amazonian region of Yasuní. The environmentalists had spent six months collecting signatures to oppose Rafael Correa’s plans to extract oil from the Yasuní-ITT oil field in the eastern portion of the country.
The petitions handed to the Council on 12 April included 757,623 signatures, exceeding by more than 100,000 the number needed to trigger a national referendum and halt the drilling. However, on April 16, officials found that the boxes containing the identity numbers of those who had collected the signatures were opened without the presence of delegates from the YASunidos environmental movement. Environmentalists claim the identity details of 100 signature collectors were missing, which could potentially invalidate all the signatures collected by those activists.