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Controversial Ecuador oil deal lets China stake an $80-million claim to pristine Amazon rainforest

They tried talks. They tried letters. They tried protests. But nothing could stop the deal.

Ecuador’s government sold oil exploration rights in a remote corner of the Amazon rainforest to a consortium of Chinese state-owned oil companies this week, despite dogged resistance from indigenous groups in the South American country who fear they could lose everything.

Andes Petroleum Ecuador, a consortium of two Chinese state-owned firms — China National Petroleum Corp. and China Petroleum and Chemical Corp. — on Wednesday purchased the rights to explore two oil blocks in the Amazon that cover an area of 500,000 acres, 1.5 times the size of the city of Los Angeles....