Eye on the Amazon: The Official Blog of Amazon Watch

We Will Never Forget

3rd anniversary of judgment against Chevron In Ecuador

February 14, 2014

We Will Never Forget

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Today is the third anniversary of what could be one of the most important triumphs of indigenous rights over Big Oil in world history.

On Valentine's Day three years ago, an Ecuadorian court found Chevron liable for deliberately dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste into the Amazon rainforest of the South American nation. The court imposed $9 billion in damages and added another $9 billion in punitive damages for its cynical efforts to "undermine the administration of justice" in the country.

That decision – the largest civil trial judgment in history at the time – was a testament to the vision, tenacity, and intelligence of dozens of indigenous and farmer communities in Ecuador's northeast rainforest region known as the Oriente. Against all odds, communities struggled for years to hold the company accountable – a company whose reckless impunity devastated the health, livelihoods and environment for countless innocent people.

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Klamath River Youth Travel to Brazil to Join Belo Monte Dam Fight

February 14, 2014 | Belo Monte Dam Resistance Delegation

Klamath River Youth Travel to Brazil to Join Belo Monte Dam Fight

Today a Northern California delegation of Indigenous youth and Klamath River protectors depart San Francisco International Airport, headed to Brazil's Xingu River Basin in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. The group will meet with communities affected by the proposed Belo Monte dam project.

"We want to show solidarity in the struggle to preserve and protect inherited cultures and natural resources from shortsighted projects like the proposed Belo Monte dam," said Dania Rose Colegrove, Hoopa Tribal member, and one of the group's organizers.

Belo Monte would be the world's third largest hydroelectric dam, and its creation would allow for further destructive mining and deforestation practices. It is one of many proposed dams that would devastate the lives and cultures of hundreds of thousands of indigenous people who rely on the Xingu River and other tributaries of the Amazon for sustaining life. This includes some of the world's last un-contacted Indigenous people. The Amazon Basin is approximately the size of the continental United States, and is home to 60 percent of the world's remaining rainforest. It holds one-fifth of the world's fresh water.

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Voices of the Xingu: Antonia Melo, Amazon Warrior

February 13, 2014 | Maira Irigaray

"We won't let our rivers in the Amazon be sacrificed!"
– Antonia Melo

Help Stop the Belo Monte Dam!

As citizens of the global community working to protect rivers and defend human rights, we can change the course of this struggle.

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If you're reading this it's quite likely that you know by now that the Brazilian government is planning to build what would be the world's third largest hydroelectric dam on one of the Amazon's major tributaries, the Xingu River. The Belo Monte dam would divert the flow of the Xingu and devastate an extensive area of the Brazilian rainforest, displacing over 20,000 people and threatening the survival of indigenous peoples. For the past 25 years, Antonia Melo da Silva has been at the forefront of this battle fighting for justice, rights, rivers and the rainforest.

Born in 1949 and mother of five, Melo (as we like to call her) is the coordinator and the heart of the Movimento Xingu Vivo para Sempre (Xingu Alive Forever Movement), a coalition of over 150 organizations and social movements fighting the Belo Monte dam. She has worked tirelessly since the dam was first proposed and stopped following the historic Altamira gathering of 1989 and a global campaign calling for cancellation of World Bank financing.

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Chevron Cries: "Please Your Honor, Make the Cartoons Stop!"

February 5, 2014 | Paul Paz y Miño

Donny Rico

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.

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Cartoons are dangerous. Did you know that? In fact, Chevron wants a US Federal Court to believe cartoons are even more dangerous than dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste into the Ecuadorian Amazon and then suing the very people it poisoned. Suppressing free speech, crushing critics with legal attacks, and violating the 1st Amendment – also less scary than cartoons, according to Chevron.

Pulitzer Prize winning animator Mark Fiore discovered this when we pointed out that Chevron's latest legal filing in their bogus RICO action against the Ecuadorians and their supporters included these lines:

Chevron Has Suffered, and Will Continue to Suffer, Ongoing Injuries
...Chevron continues to be threatened with a variety of "real, immediate, and direct" injuries.
...they have already unleashed a barrage of near-daily press releases, letters to government officials and shareholders, web videos, and cartoons in an effort to extort a payoff from Chevron.

Fiore explains it on his blog in Part 1 and Part 2. He (@MarkFiore and @The_Donny_Rico) then created a Twitter-storm and it's been picked up by Salon.com among others. It was only a matter of time before he too joined the ranks of the "global conspirators" in Chevron’s eyes. Yep, Donny Rico nailed it!

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Brazil: Munduruku People Kick Miners Off Indigenous Territory, Seize Equipment

February 3, 2014 | Larissa Saud

Under threat of death, Muduruku expel miners from their territories, west of Para. Photo: Larissa Saud / Terra Magazine

This week marked a new chapter in the Mundurukú people’s intensifying movement to protect their lands and rivers. Informal gold mining operations have long been a scourge on Mundurukú territory as they operate throughout the Amazon, poisoning rivers, dispersing fish, and bringing conflict and disease to indigenous communities.

A little history

In November 2012, Brazilian authorities organized a brutal military incursion into Mundurukú land, purportedly to stamp out illegal mining. During their so-called “Operation El Dorado” police swept into the Teles Pires indigenous community on a military helicopter wielding machine guns and opened fire, murdering the young leader Adenilson Mundurukú and injuring 12 more people, including children. After their rampage, Brazilian police forces destroyed a mining barge on the river, dispersing debris and pollution. While the action succeeded in driving local miners away, they returned to their operations as soon as the police left the area, leaving the Mundurukú terrorized and without official recourse to remove miners from their lands.

Operation El Dorado is widely believed to have been a tactic by the Brazilian government to intimidate and demoralize the Mundurukú people, who represent the most significant obstacle to government plans to dam the Tapajós River and its tributaries.

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