Eye on the Amazon: The Official Blog of Amazon Watch
June 9, 2012 | Paul Paz y Miño
After months of suspense, the Ecuadorian rainforest communities have finally opened up the first front in what is likely to be a worldwide legal battle to force Chevron to pay its $18 billion ruling for environmental devastation in the Amazon.
On May 30, the Ecuadorians' Canadian lawyer, Alan Lenczner, filed suit in Ontario provincial court in Toronto, asking the court to seize the company's subsidiaries, Chevron Canada Ltd. and Chevron Finance Canada Ltd. These two companies' assets include offshore oil production in Newfoundland, tar sands operations in Alberta, and a refinery and gasoline stations in British Columbia.
June 6, 2012 | Gregor MacLennan
Three years ago yesterday, Peruvian police, in an attempt to end 55 days of peaceful indigenous protests across the Amazon basin, opened fire on a group of protesters at "Devil's Curve", near the town of Bagua in northern Peru. The violent clashes that ensued left 34 dead and over 200 injured in the worst violence that Peru has seen in recent history. Each group of protestors had their own fight - a gold mine in the ancestral territory of the Awajun, the ongoing contamination from 40 years of oil drilling in Corrientes, ongoing spills from the Camisea Gas project - but they were brought together by a common cause: fighting the oppressive policies and new legislation from the Garcia government that undermined indigenous rights and opened up the Amazon to foreign investment and extractive industries.
Today, Peru has a new government under Ollanta Humala. The approval of a new consultation law soon after Humala's appointment brought hope to the indigenous movement, but those hopes faded with Humala's response to massive mobilizations against the $4.8 billion Conga open-pit mining project in Cajamarca. Humala clamped down on protests and reshuffled the cabinet, marking a 180-degree turn from the promise of change from the failed neoliberal development and environmental policies of the Garcia administration.
Today, the fragile ecosystems and critical watersheds of Peru's Andes and Amazon are under greater threat than ever before from the ongoing expansion of oil drilling and mining throughout the region. From the Achuar peoples' protest against proposed drilling by Talisman Energy in the Amazon, to marches through the streets of Iquitos against the threat to the city's drinking water by ConocoPhillips, and increasing number of indigenous peoples are speaking out in defense of their water and their future.
National March of Solidarity in Iquitos
June 1, 2012 | Amanda Garratt
On Thursday, May 31st, the people of Iquitos and the region of Loreto came together once again in unity in defense of water and life. Leading the pack was a small boy with a handwritten sign, "Don't you drink water from the Nanay? Join the fight." And behind him thousands of people from Iquitos and the region of Loreto, chanting and marching along the main streets of Iquitos.
It used to be that natural resources protests in the area were the subject matter for indigenous peoples. However, the newest threat to the region, the drilling of 48 exploratory wells in the Nanay River Basin by US oil company ConocoPhillips and its partners, has become a regional threat. Not only is the Nanay an area of endemic biodiversity, but it also provides 90% of the drinking water to the city of Iquitos.
May 29, 2012 | Paul Paz y Miño
At its Annual General Meeting in San Ramon on Wednesday, Chevron executives gave a good show – and a chillingly hard line. CEO John Watson told the assembled shareholders and activists from around the world that all was well, the company was raking in money and there was nothing to worry from those pesky multi-billion-dollar legal judgments and threatened fines against the company.
Watson showed a series of slick videos about Chevron's global business, including one purporting to show how the $18 billion Ecuador judgment against Chevron was a "fraud." For an in-depth and truthful expose on their disaster see chevrontoxico.com.
Pressed by shareholders and large institutional investors who urged Watson to settle the case, Watson dug in his heels and took the hardest line he has yet taken publicly in the 18-year-old case.
May 29, 2012 | Paul Paz y Miño
Tomorrow, May 30, Chevron will be practicing the elaborate rite of corporate public relations known as the Annual General Meeting for shareholders. At the company's headquarters in San Ramon, California, there will be plenty of image-buffing and apple-polishing for top executives and the board of directors, plus praise for the company's obscene profits.
Of course, denial of reality also will be part of the show. Chevron executives are likely to make only passing mention of their dire legal situation internationally, from Ecuador to Brazil to Nigeria, where the company faces tens of billions of dollars in fines for environmental crimes.
That's where Amazon Watch comes in. As in previous years, we will be accompanying indigenous leaders from northeastern Ecuador to speak truth to power.