Eye on the Amazon: The Official Blog of Amazon Watch
December 4, 2012 | Maíra Irigaray
Right now we are witnessing a critical moment in Brazil's history. Brazil's current energy polices have created glaring setbacks for the rights of indigenous peoples, the environment and Brazilian democracy. It's time to take action for justice. Join us on Monday, December 10th for an International Day of Action against the Belo Monte Dam and for Justice Now!
Why take action next week?
Last month, together with the Movimento Xingo Vivo Para Sempre and International Rivers, we launched the Justice Now! Campaign calling on the Brazilian judiciary to help bring resolution to the outstanding legal cases against the Belo Monte Dam. The campaign has been endorsed by 140 Brazilian organizations and 63 international groups from at least 25 countries in a sign on letter to Brazilian judicial authorities, including the new Afro-Brazilian President of the Supreme Court. The coalition delivered the letter last week and is requesting face-to-face meetings led by Brazilian civil society groups to discuss concerns.
The situation in Brazil is getting more serious by the day. Last week the Brazilian National Development Bank (BNDES) approved a historic $10.8 billion loan for the Belo Monte Dam. While this decision was anticipated for December, we were surprised to see the funds released amidst controversy over the dam, including indigenous occupations and worker uprisings.
November 28, 2012 | Mitch Anderson
The Ecuadorian government's plans to auction off nearly ten million acres of rainforest wilderness in the south-central Amazon – home to seven indigenous nationalities – was met by fierce opposition from hundreds of indigenous people this morning, who had traveled dozens of hours by river and road to Quito to thwart the launch of the government's 11th Round of oil licensing.
Photos by Mitch Anderson
November 21, 2012
It's been a huge year here at Amazon Watch – another huge year. And as we look towards 2013 we know that we can only do so thanks to the strong foundation you provide for us. Your activism, your partnership, all those petitions and all your financial support has made this year one to remember and be inspired by in the years to come.
We saw great news in Ecuador with the victory of the Sarayaku community in their fight to protect their lands from oil interests and to secure free prior and informed consent. We saw Talisman Energy and ConocoPhillips announce they were leaving Peru after years of supporting the Achuar, grassroots campaigning and shareholder activism. We saw Chevron lose their appeal in the US Supreme Court in another failed attempt to evade justice and delay paying the $19bn judgment against them in Ecuador...and now they are seeing their assets seized, frozen and under threat in other countries in the campaign to see justice rendered to the people of Ecuador. And we saw your enormous support drive our efforts at the Earth Summit in Rio this year where we drove the conversation and put the spotlight on the Belo Monte Dam and the threat to the Xingu River and the indigenous people who live there.
We couldn't have won these victories or seen this kind of progress and action without you – THANK YOU.
We know that the coming year will bring new challenges and new opportunities, but some things will remain unchanged. Our program staff will continue to work tirelessly for the Amazon and for our indigenous partners. We will continue to bring leaders from threatened communities to the corporate headquarters of "Big Oil" to confront them in person. We will continue to provide resources to our partners in the Amazon to help them protect their homes and stand up for their rights. We will do this and more!
November 13, 2012 | Maíra Irigaray
Belo Monte: Justice Now!
Join the worldwide chorus calling for justice in Brazil by urging a definitive ruling on lawsuits against the Belo Monte Dam. Sign the petition today.
On the brink of the VIII Forum on Indigenous people and the electric sector, alarming conflicts have swept Brazil. The forum has been called "a farce meant to greenwash the energy sector's impacts on indigenous peoples" and the reality outside conference doors proves Brazilians are facing a unique moment. In three different regions, indigenous peoples from Mato Grosso, Tapajós and the Xingu have found themselves face-to-face with what "development" really means to their culture and lands.
November 9, 2012 | Kevin Koenig
If you're a Chevron shareholder, you must be wondering at this point WTF is going on over at corporate headquarters. The internet exploded Wednesday with news that an Argentinian judge ordered seizure of Chevron's in-country assets in what could be the first of many rulings enforcing a $19 billion judgment from an Ecuadorian court on behalf of indigenous and farmer communities who have suffered decades-long contamination, health problems, and rights abuses stemming from the company's Amazon drilling operations. Chevron shares closed down $1.64 on Thursday and may keep nose-diving over the long term.
Judge Adrian Elcuj Miranda froze 100% of Chevron's capital in Argentina, 100% of dividends, all of its share in pipeline operator Oleoductos del Valle SA, 40% of Chevron sales to Argentine refineries, and 40% of Chevron bank accounts in Argentina. The move was a major victory for the 30,000 plaintiffs who have been forced to scour the planet seeking Chevron assets because the oil giant has refused to pay the $19 billion damage award ordered by Ecuadorian courts after it was found guilty for spilling over 18 million gallons of crude and dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste water into the fragile rainforest ecosystem, poisoning local indigenous and farmer communities. The verdict was handed down by a court of Chevron's own choosing and based on much of the company's own evidence after almost two decades of litigation which includes some 64,000 soil and water samples.
For any Chevron shareholder, the news must have been shocking, because senior management has long downplayed – or outright failed to disclose – the potential financial impact of the verdict. Since 2008 the company has recycled the same language in its 10-K, misleading shareholders on the legal and factual merits of the case, selectively disclosing only favorable court rulings, and refusing to disclose material impact of enforcement actions against its assets in multiple countries. In essence, downplaying and dismissing any impact the case could have financially on the company.
However, in a sworn affidavit presented to the New York's Second Circuit Court, Chevron Deputy Comptroller Rex Mitchell stated that efforts by plaintiffs to recognize and enforce the judgment would cause "significant, irreparable damage to Chevron...irreparable injury to Chevron's business reputation and business relationships," and that "seizure of Chevron assets, such as oil tankers, wells, or pipelines, in any one of these countries, would disrupt Chevron's supply chain and operations; and seizures in multiple jurisdictions would be more disruptive."