A possible chronology

“There are no facts, only interpretations.”


1492. Christopher Columbus does not discover America.

1538. Francisco Pizarro sends Gonzalo Díaz de Pineda to look for El Dorado and the legendary Country of Cinnamon. Francisco de Orellana goes with him. He is not successful.

1540. Three hundred and fifty armed Spaniards, four thousand Indians, five thousand pigs and an unknown number of dogs go into the jungle in search of cinnamon plantations. The expedition is attacked by ferocious Indian warriors who remind them of the mythical Amazon women.

1541. Francisco de Orellana reaches the mouth of the Amazon River with fifty-seven men after crossing the infinite green and declares: “The Indians attack without giving any warning, in silence, usually during the night.”

1578. The indigenous people rise up against the conquistadors’ repression and domination in the Pende Revolt. They are not successful and hide themselves in the jungle to avoid any contact.

1617. The Jesuits’ ‘Great Pacification’ begins, using peace as a means of domination for submission to the power. Their goal is to subdue the natives and extract gold from the area.

1767. The Jesuits are expelled from Ecuador.

1820. Simon Bolivar writes that Lope de Aguirre’s rebellion was the first declaration of independence for an American territory.

1822. Ecuador becomes independent from Spain.

1839. Charles Goodyear accidentally mixes rubber with sulphur on his stove at home. This accident leads to the invention of the tyre.

1859. Edwin Drake drills the first oil well in the world in the US.

1879. The ‘Rubber Fever’ begins. Nobody controls the chaos.

1882. Rockefeller founds Standard Oil.

1888. Confrontations between the Huaorani and the rubber barons begin.

1895. President Eloy Alfaro decrees the end of the indigenous peoples’ ‘free work’ and gives them legal recognition as Ecuadorian citizens.

1899. The Special Eastern Law forbids the direct sale of children or exchanging them for goods.

1911. The first oil well in Ecuador—Ancón I—is opened on the coast of the Santa Elena Peninsula. President Leonidas Plaza Gutiérrez reforms the Mining Code declaring that oil is owned by the State.

1928. Intensive oil extraction begins in the area.

1937. The dictator Federico Páez enacts a new Oil Law, giving foreign companies unlimited access to the country.

1938. European and North American geologists arrive to the Amazon town of Mera—currently Shell-Mera—to build a landing strip and begin mapping the area.

1939. The Huaorani attack the Shell-Mera camps constantly.

1942. The ‘Rubber Fever’ is reborn due to the Second World War.

1943. Royal Dutch Shell begins prospecting in Yasuni. It is not successful.

1944. There are no peaceful contacts with the Huaorani. A Quichua girl abducted by them says: “They live in perfect harmony, with wooden discs in the holes in their ears.”

1946. A Huaorani woman travels to Francisco de Orellana city and says: “I never thought that human beings were ants.” At that moment, the Huaorani people realise that they cannot kill all the nonpersons.

1948. After the failure of the oil prospecting, Shell returns to the Ecuadoran State part of the territory granted. President Galo Plaza Lasso states with resignation: “The East is a myth: destiny wants us to be an agricultural country rather than an oil country.”

1950. Wilfred Tidmarsh directs a mission for settling evangelical missionaries in the area, helped by the oil companies and the state. James Elliot hears of the Huaorani and plans to evangelise them.

1952. SIL missionaries sign a contract with the Ministry of Education to study aboriginal languages in order to translate the Bible. In order to do so, they record the indigenous people’s voices to use them later to pacify them.

1954. SIL missionaries fly over the Huaorani’s houses in light aircrafts and broadcast messages through loudspeakers.

1955. SIL organises Operación Auca, sending the Huaorani presents in baskets with microphones hidden in double bottoms in order to listen to them from the distance.

1956. Four SIL missionaries die at the hands of the Huaorani. Two relatives of the dead missionaries move to the area and try to Christianise the Huaorani.

1957. A Huaorani woman called Dayuma travels to the US to appear on the television programme This is your Life.

1961. The Huaorani enter the post-contact era, accepting the presence of missionaries in the area.

1965. Texaco-Gulf restarts the extraction work that Shell had abandoned with the help of the SIL to control the Huaorani.

1967. Oil is struck at Lago Agrio No.1 well. People shout: “Oil! Oil!” with excitement, stand in line and sing the national anthem of Ecuador. The site workers and technicians bathe in crude oil. The oil boom begins.

1968. Texaco builds a road to Francisco de Orellana city and it begins the liberalisation of the oil market.

1970. Texaco Gulf donates thousands of dollars to the SIL in order for it to remain in the area.

1972. President Velasco Ibarra promulgates the Hydrocarbon Law and sets up the Ecuadorian State Oil Company (CEPE). The first barrel of oil is transported to Santo Domingo Square on top of a battle tank.

1973. Ecuador joins OPEC as a full member. The oil crisis begins.

1974. The Huaorani write a song about helicopters with the hope that it will bring them more presents.

1976. The French company Compagnie Générale de Géophysique (CGG) carries out seismic prospecting. Their workers are attacked by the Huaorani and the missionaries are asked to intercede in the conflict. The missionary Monsignor Alejandro Labaka contacts the Huaorani people for the first time.

1977. CEPE controls 100 per cent of the oil operations in the area. The government issues the Amazon Region Colonisation Law, which consolidates the state’s hegemony making use of the army. Alejandro Labaka flies over the conflict zone with CEPE workers and Ecuadorian soldiers.

1978. Alejandro Labaka is accepted by the Huaorani as an adopted son.

1979. Jaime Roldós Aguilera is named the new president of Ecuador and the Yasuni is declared a national park. A new oil crisis begins.

1980. The SIL is officially expelled from Ecuador by the Decree 1159.

1981. President Jaime Roldós presents the Hydrocarbons Law. He dies shortly afterwards, allegedly killed by the CIA.

1985. The Huaorani’s traditional way of life has almost disappeared, with the exception of the Tagaeri group, with whom there is still no contact and who lives in isolation in the jungle. Alejandro Labaka writes the Letter of Rights of the Huaorani Nationality and sends it to the state. The document concludes: “In the hope that this voice of the voiceless be heard.”

1986. CEPE and Petrobras hire anthropologist Julio Enrique Vela, along with a group of Shiwiar ex-soldiers, to wipe the Tagaeri off the map. At the same time, Alejandro Labaka puts forward a peaceful contact plan.

1987. Alejandro Labaka and the missionary Inés Arango die at the hands of the Tagaeri.

1988. The Ministry of Energy, CEPE, and the Ecuadorian Episcopal Council reach an agreement to suspend oil drilling in the Tagaeri area indefinitely.

1989. The Yasuni is recognised as part of the Biosphere Reserve of the UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme. Petroecuador is founded to replace CEPE. Julio Enrique Vela, at the service of Petroecuador, attacks the Tagaeri from helicopters with machine-guns in order to exterminate them.

1990. The first indigenous uprising paralyses Ecuador. The state recognises the Huaorani territory, but reserves the right to manage the subsoil.

1991. The contract with Texaco finishes, leaving behind a large ecological debt. The Organization of the Huaorani Nationality of the Ecuadorian Amazon (ONHAE) is born.

1997. The Taromenane are said to exterminate the Tagaeri.

1998. Ecuador formally recognises the country to be multicultural and some of the indigenous people’s collective rights when it accepts the International Labour Organization’s Convention 169 and includes indigenous peoples’ rights in the new constitution. Meanwhile, Repsol YPF declares losses for not paying taxes to the Ecuadorian state and the state exonerates it from paying VAT.

1999. The President of the Republic, Jamil Mahuad, promulgates the creation of the Tagaeri–Taromenane Untouchable Area (ZITT) in the Official Register by the Executive Decree 552.

2000. Ecuador officially adopts the dollar as its legal currency. Repsol YPF is the Spanish company that generates more profits, more than 3,000 million dollars

2001. Guido Andrade Granda, former Head of Accounts and Treasury at Repsol, states that Repsol YPF pays the lowest salaries in the oil industry, with working days of up to 15 hours, without days off and without overtime payment.

2002. Eliseo Gómez, Repsol YPF’s legal representative, states that in Ecuador “trials are an auction: whoever pays most, wins”.

2003. The Trial of the Century against Chevron-Texaco begins in Ecuador.

2005. Three timber merchants are attacked by uncontacted peoples. The reason: noise.

2006. The spirit of the tiger appears to a Huaorani shaman to explain that the Tagaeri and the Taromenane are upset by the noise from the helicopters and the oil wells. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights draws up a Precautionary Measures Plan in favour of the uncontacted peoples. Meanwhile, the Ecuadorian state grants a concession of various oil blocks in the Untouchable Area to oil companies such as China Petroriental.

2007. Rafael Correa is named the new President of Ecuador. The government makes use of the Precautionary Measures Plan decreeing the militarisation of the oil fields. Rafael Correa presents the Yasuni-ITT Initiative (Yasuni – Ishpingo Tambococha Tiputini), set up with the objective of preventing drilling for oil in the Yasuni National Park, with the condition that half of the estimated value of the oil reserves area should be financed by international donations. He is not successful.

2008. A timber merchant and his family are attacked by uncontacted peoples. The reason: noise.

2009. The report from the Precautionary Measures Plan is critical against the oil work carried out at Armadillo. The Manager of Petroamazonas states: “The development of the country cannot be held up by the presence of a handful of indigenous people of whose existence there is no proof.”

2011. Amazonia is chosen as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The United Nations Development Programme sets up a fund for administering donations to the Yasuni-ITT Initiative. It is not successful.

2013. A Huaorani family die at the hands of the Taromenane near an oil well. The reason: noise. The Huaorani take revenge by killing a Taromenane group and abducting two girls. Rafael Correa announces the start of oil drilling at the Yasuni National Park after the failure of the Yasuni-ITT Initiative. The president declares: “The world has let us down.”

2017. Oil will run out.
Note: The data in this chapter have been compiled from different sources. During the research period, contradictions in dates and events were found. Any resemblance to reality, people, places and animals, dead or alive, mentioned here is pure coincidence.