Eye on the Amazon: The Official Blog of Amazon Watch

The Amazon is Not for Sale!

February 14, 2013 | Adam Zuckerman

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Send a letter urging President Correa to respect indigenous rights and the rights of nature.

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"Why are you auctioning off millions of acres of the Ecuadorian Amazon without the consent of the communities that live there?"

I managed to get the first question during a Q&A with the Ecuadorian Minister of Hydrocarbons Andres Donoso at the Ecuadorian government's invitation-only meeting with oil executives in Houston, where I had gained entry by saying that I worked for Goldman Sachs. Trying hard not to think about the team of security guards who were eyeing me closely, I politely asked Mr. Donoso why he was selling off the Amazon without the permission of the communities that call it home and asked whether potential investors knew about the legal, environmental, social and financial risk factors that their companies would face. That's when I was invited to leave.

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Brazil's Energy Crisis Creates Opportunities for Alternatives

February 12, 2013 | Christian Poirier

Brazil's Energy Crisis Creates Opportunities for Alternatives

Is Brazil running out of energy? Recent news reports detail electricity shortages due to depleted reservoirs at the country's hydroelectric facilities, which Brazil depends on for more than 80% of its electricity generation. Drought has left reservoirs dangerously low, and several large cities have already suffered blackouts.

Despite the recent alarming shortages, the Brazilian government denies the need to implement electricity conservation measures – an option deemed "ridiculous" by President Dilma Rousseff – and has instead responded by firing up its network of polluting thermoelectric plants, which spew CO2 emissions while driving up electricity costs to the ire of Brazilian consumers. Meanwhile, the country's powerful Ministry of Mines and Energy has been thrown on the defensive, vehemently dismissing reports that Brazil will lack the energy it needs to power the 2014 World Cup.

This predicament not only exposes the vulnerabilities of the country's current energy matrix; it also highlights the inadequacies of government policies, which have focused on constructing dozens of large dams in the Amazon instead of implementing energy efficiency measures and diversifying energy supplies to include advanced technologies such as solar and wind.

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Kangaroo Court Favors Chevron. Surprise, Surprise!

February 11, 2013 | Paul Paz y Miño

Kangaroo Court favors Chevron. Surprise, Surprise!

So what do you do if you're a massive corporate criminal that has lost in local and national courts and the court of public opinion, been rejected by the U.S. Supreme court, had your assets seized and frozen abroad, and stand teetering on the brink of losing several other suits costing you billions of dollars in assets after decades of telling your shareholders you have ZERO risk in the matter?

Well, if you're Chevron you try to weasel your way out any way you can and look to anyone – no matter how removed from the matter – to declare you're the victim rather than the perpetrator. In this particular case, as we wrote about last year, Chevron has found an obscure private arbitration panel, acting under the mantle of the U.S.-Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty, in an attempt to circumvent justice in Ecuador and threaten that country into interfering in the Lago Agrio case. This weak effort hasn't stopped efforts in Canada and Argentina and despite Chevron's hopes, will not be their "get out of jail free" card. Rather, it has served to shine a light on this process of how non-transparent, unaccountable investor-state arbitration dispute resolution systems are being employed to undermine fundamental human rights. Watch this video just released by Friends of the Earth U.S. to learn more.

To be clear, the tribunal or "Kangaroo Court" exists only to facilitate commercial dispute resolution across international borders in a way that promotes economic development and consistency in the law. But they have no legal authority to decide major questions of international law. A point solidified by the fact that the panel rejected Chevron's key request – that the Ecuador judgment be declared unenforceable as a matter of international law.

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Your Actions Make the Difference for the Xingu and Its People

February 7, 2013 | Maira Irigaray

Occupying the Belo Monte dam construction site

Greetings Friends,

I am writing on behalf of the magical and mystical Amazon rainforest and the traditional populations that inhabit its sacred places.

Last year you followed our battles and supported us by signing petitions, protesting, sharing messages and by donating. YOUR actions make the difference!

Right now, traditional populations throughout the Amazon are living in a critical moment. We have never seeing so much "D": Disregard, Disrespect, and Destruction. Along the way many people give up when the battle seems lost, or they think that signing a petition or donating few dollars won't change anything. To those people I say: The fight for justice and a fair planet never ends just because a battle was lost. We will always have time to do better, and your actions make the difference!

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Indigenous Leaders Confront Ecuadorian Government in Houston

February 5, 2013

Jaime Vargas, President of the Achuar Nationality of Ecuador and Narcisa Mashienta, community leader from the Shuar Nationality of Ecuador

Support the Delegation!

Please help us to bring Jaime and Narcisa to Houston to confront the Ecuadorian government at NAPE.

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Indigenous leaders from the Ecuadorian Amazon have traveled to Houston to challenge the Ecuadorian government face-to-face during its XI Round oil concession promotional activities around the North America Prospect Expo (NAPE), the oil prospecting industry's semi-annual trade show where government officials scheduled meetings with oil company executives and investors seeking to auction off a vast swath of pristine Amazon rainforest.

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