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Oil Sparks in the Amazon: Local Conflicts, Indigenous Populations, and Natural Resources, Patricia I. Vásquez

Reviewed by Nora Webb Williams



Recent decades have seen a rise in the production of hydrocarbons (oil and gas) in Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. The motivating observation of Oil Sparks in the Amazon is that this rise has coincided with an increase in the frequency of “local conflicts.” These conflicts are “geographically limited to the boundaries of the oil or gas project that originally sparks them, and they involve Indige­nous People, and sometimes farming communities living in the area” (p. 5–6). Patricia I. Vásquez’s take on this phenomenon is policy oriented, with a focus on strategies to mitigate local hydrocarbons conflicts in the future.

The major contribution of the book arises from the author’s clear command of the facts of her case studies. The detailed descriptions of events make for a useful primer on the issues of hydrocarbons and conflict in the region. With a focus on the Amazonian areas of Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru, the first chapter provides a helpful overview of the stakeholders in each case while also summarizing the global forces at play. The second chapter presents a brief history of the indigenous peoples, their struggle for rights in the case countries, and the lingering disparities between these groups and nonindigenous pop­ulations. The third

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