Eye on the Amazon: The Official Blog of Amazon Watch
April 23, 2014 | Paul Paz y Miño
Don't let Chevron turn defending the environment and human rights into a crime!
Tell the U.S. Senate's top corporate watchdogs to investigate Chevron's attacks against the very people it poisoned and their allies.
Chevron continued its unprecedented campaign of attacking its critics last week when I was forcibly removed from a half-day conference I paid $75 to attend simply because I was affiliated with Amazon Watch. The strangest part was the excuse given for the outrageous step was that it was a preemptive act for something they feared I might do.
In a flagrant violation of my right of association, last Wednesday, the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce (OMCC) held an "Economic Development Summit for Energy and Sustainability" sponsored by Chevron. As an Oakland-based environmental organization it would seem to follow that Amazon Watch would be a welcome participant at just such an event. However, the moment my affiliation was made known I was told "Amazon Watch is not welcome here." And security was called to remove me. Why exactly?
April 17, 2014 | Andrew Miller
Help the U'wa Defend Their Ancestral Lands!
Indigenous U'wa leaders must travel to the UN to prevent Colombian government from forcibly entering their lands.
What can we learn from the U'wa? Persistence, for one thing. Decades after they came to the world's attention for successfully protecting their sacred lands from environmental destruction, they have not wavered in their determination. The threats may change – Occidental Petroleum announced their departure from U'wa territory in 2002 later replaced by Colombia's national oil company Ecopetrol – but their vociferous (and strictly nonviolent) self-defense will not.
The latest attacks on their lands and their culture are concentrated in northern U'wa territory. Starting in February of 2014, Ecopetrol intensified oil exploration activities on an oil platform known as Magallanes. While technically outside the U'wa resguardo (reservation), the area is firmly within U'wa ancestral territory. It is also immediately next to the Cubogón River, which holds spiritual significance for the U'wa, in addition to supporting their daily livelihoods.
Declaration of the Xingu Alive Forever Movement
April 16, 2014
Join the worldwide chorus calling for justice by urging Brazil's Supreme Court to rule on lawsuits against the Belo Monte Dam!
Translated by Amazon Watch
In the last week of March, representatives from communities and all of the ally organizations of the Xingu Alive Forever Movement met in Altamira (Pará, Brazil).
The idea was to take a deep look into ourselves, to look to the Xingu and the Amazon to think about the paths we have chosen so far and the direction that we want to choose from now on. This was our conclusion:
April 15, 2014 | Leila Salazar-Lopez
Sign the Petition
for an Oil-Free Yasuní
Sign the petition to save Yasuní –
the most biodiverse part of the Amazon.
On Saturday, April 12th, something incredibly inspiring happened in Ecuador. Yasunidos or "United for Yasuní," a civil society collective of environmentalists, artists, activists, and indigenous leaders, delivered nearly 800,000 signatures to the National Elections Commission (CNE) calling for a national referendum to decide if oil should remain under Block 43/ITT in Yasuní National Park indefinitely.
A couple of months ago collecting over 600,000 signatures, the amount needed to qualify for a referendum, seemed almost impossible. But, for Yasunidos and its allies around the world, what was impossible – unfathomable, really – was the government proposal to drill in Yasuní-ITT, one of the last remaining parts of the Yasuní National Park free from oil drilling. Yasuní is an area of extremely high biodiversity located in the Amazon region of Ecuador. The park was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1989 and contains what are thought to be the greatest number of plant and animal species anywhere on the planet including one of the biggest populations of jaguars. It is also home to numerous indigenous peoples including two nomadic Waorani clans, the Tagaeri and Taromenane, who shun contact with the outside world.
April 8, 2014 | Andrew E. Miller
Franco Viteri, indigenous leader from the Ecuadorian Amazon, remembers hearing about the death of Chico Mendes. The lasting impression of Chico's example – a quarter century after his assassination – inspired Franco to participate in the Chico Vive! conference this past weekend. Amazon Watch, a conference co-sponsor, was honored to facilitate his presence.
Chico was a humble and brilliant Brazilian labor and environmental activist. He played a key role in promoting the alternative "extractive reserve" model, in which forests are sustainably harvested of their many riches like Brazil nuts and rubber, without causing harm much less clear-cutting them. The son of a local cattle rancher killed Chico on December 22nd, 1988.
As Franco stated during his presentation, "There are many Chico Mendes around the world." An impressive mix of them were in attendance – women and men who take daily risks in defense of both human rights and the environment. Over the weekend grassroots activists shared their wisdom from Latin America (Brazil, Ecuador, Guatemala) to Asia (Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines) to Africa (Liberia, Tanzania). Indigenous leaders from Australia and Canada illustrated the universality of struggles to defend territory, culture, and nature.
Over the gathering, those leaders detailed the threats to local people and their surroundings: large-scale dams, oil palm plantations, hydro-fracking, mining, oil drilling, other infrastructure projects, roads… Imagine your community is being negatively impacted by one of those projects. So you stand up, demanding the government protects your rights to clean water, clean air, safe food. When your campaign gains some traction, you start to receive threats to your safety and other intimidation.