On March 29, the deadline for the execution of the judgment of the Provincial Court of Sucumbíos expired for the ministries of energy, environment and health to carry out the various tasks entrusted to them in the lawsuit won by the nine Amazonian girls. eliminate lighters near the population centers of that region. This is because they, who are part of the oil operations, have been polluting the environment and affecting health and environmental rights for decades.

However, this Tuesday, March 28, during a court hearing to verify compliance with the sentence, Judge María Custodia Toapanta Guanoluisa of the Sucumbíos court, after hearing the arguments of the parties, gave a deadline of 20 days for the formation of a commission in which the prosecutors of the Lighter case and authorities of the Ministries of Energy, Environment, and Health determine compliance with the lighter removal penalty in the Amazon.

The state has indicated that the sentence was complied with, but prosecutors claim that there was non-compliance.

It is about the fact that the Ministry of Energy and Petroecuador announced a few days ago that they had already extinguished 112 of the 447 existing lighters and thus consider that the punishment has been fulfilled. Well, in a second, the others that were further away had to go out. The ministry and Petroecuador approved a regulation according to which lighters that are 100 meters away from cities are considered close.

The decision was not well received by the prosecutor. According to lawyer Pablo Fajardo, who is sponsoring the girls’ action, the community’s desire was for the Ministry and Petroecuador to eliminate at least 430 lighters located near the cities. This is taking into account that particles from lighters affect the environment within a radius of at least 5 km. Additionally, he said that the oil authorities have made very serious statements to the effect that turning off the lighters creates a reduction in oil production. For Fajardo, this is a sign of negligence on the part of the authorities, because what they should do is use that gas.

Jairo Salazar, a lawyer familiar with the Mecheros case, explained that the state’s representatives presented weak arguments at the March 28 hearing and could not prove that they had complied with the sentence. He indicated that the Ministry of Health, which is responsible for determining the problems caused by cancer cases, did not even attend the discussion. This was not satisfied by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, which had to prepare a study of the impact on water sources, says Salazar.

In this sense, for Fajardo, what the judge has done with these 20 days is to extend the deadline for continued violations of environmental and health rights. For Fajardo, the judge remains indebted to the girls, but also did not impose any measure of pressure to effectively carry out the sentence.

Donald Moncayo, coordinator of the lawsuit and father of one of the plaintiff girls, said that the population is sad and believes that the judge is complicit in the violation of rights. After he failed to comply with the sentence, it was up to the judge to show that there was contempt in the sentence and therefore request the dismissal of the authorities who did not carry out the sentence.

Meanwhile, on the issue of lighters, the Ministry and Petroecuador face another judicial problem. This time from the company Amazon Tech, which was the sole winner of Petroecuador’s tender to capture gas from Amazon lighters. However, this same month, both Minister Fernando Santos and the director of Petroecuador announced that the process would be declared null and void. Petroecuador justified the declaration of nullity by stating that Petroecuador made mistakes in the bidding process.

Even the minister publicly invited the company to participate in the tender again. In this sense, the company Amazon Tech brought the case to justice through a protective procedure. The first hearing was held on Monday at 9:00 a.m., and next Friday another meeting of the parties will be held to make a statement about the presented evidence.