Eye on the Amazon: The Official Blog of Amazon Watch
May 10, 2012 | Paul Paz y Miño
Apparently believing that no outright whopper can't be repeated again and again, Chevron has issued a report bragging about the company's "commitment to respecting global human rights." The 2011 Corporate Responsibility Report, issued May 10th, is a glossy, 50-page masterpiece of corporate greenwashing. Here are some of its claims:
- In Nigeria, Chevron "has delivered more than 200 projects in 425 communities, villages and chiefdoms benefiting some 850,000 people. Chevron launched the Niger Delta Partnership Initiative and announced a five-year, $50 million endowment, including a partnership with USAID, to build capacity and promote long-term economic sustainability."
- In Angola, Chevron has "committed $4 million over four years to support the Angola Sickle Cell Initiative, the country’s first comprehensive sickle cell treatment program."
- In Kazakhstan, "Chevron signed a partnership agreement with Nazarbayev University in the country’s capital city, Astana, to provide funds to the Center for Energy Research for studies in energy, the environment and sustainable development, and to provide the Social Development Fund to support young researchers."
What the report doesn't tell you is the underside of these nice projects. For example:
- Nigeria – Chevron has a long track record of pollution and collusion with government human-rights abuses. Chevron is accused of involvement in the shootings of Nigerian villagers who occupied an offshore barge in 1998 to protest the company's hiring and environmental policies. In January 2012, an explosion and fire at an offshore natural gas well killed two people. As of mid-May, the fire is still burning on the ocean surface as the gas escapes uncontrollably.
- Angola – Oil leaks and spills from Chevron's facilities continue unabated after many years. Fishing communities along the coast continue to complain that fish stocks have decreased significantly because of the spills and seismic activities, and the compensation process is dysfunctional.
- Kazakhstan – Residents near Chevron's Karachaganak Field have demanded for compensation and relocation to a safe and environmentally-clean location of its choosing because of years of pollution, causing widespread chronic illnesses.
Not to mention, of course, Chevron's abominable track record in Ecuador, which has made the company a global pariah. Lots more background information on the company's global record is available at our True Cost of Chevron report.
Current Threats Facing Colombian Indigenous Peoples
May 9, 2012 | Lily Bryan, Amazon Watch DC Advocacy Intern
Though Colombia endorsed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2009, the government has taken little action that shows "[concern] that indigenous peoples have suffered from historic injustices as a result of, inter alia, their colonization and dispossession of their lands, territories and resources, thus preventing them from exercising, in particular, their right to development in accordance with their own needs and interests."
Instead, indigenous groups in Colombia continue to face unjust violence, colonization, dispossession of lands, displacement due to armed conflict and climate change, stunted recovery and development due to ethnic discrimination, forced assimilation, and cultural degradation. Yet unlike the conquistadors that threatened indigenous peoples centuries ago, today's antagonists wear the masks of extractive industries, guerrilla soldiers, paramilitaries, and poorly-functioning government assistance programs.
Violence appears to be omnipresent in Colombia. For several decades guerrilla armies and paramilitaries have engaged in an ever-evolving conflict of arms, each guerrilla attack countered by an even deadlier military attack. And when President Santos took office earlier this year, he made it clear that he would maintain an armed offensive against "drug-running insurgents."
May 4, 2012 | Robert Collier
John Manzoni's mouth was frozen in an outraged pout, as if he were undergoing some unspeakably undignified surgery. He waved his gold-rimmed glasses slowly in the air, hovered just above the tabletop. For the CEO of Talisman Energy, his meeting with the face-painted Achuar leaders was not going well at all.
Manzoni and other Talisman executives were meeting in their Calgary headquarters this week with a delegation of Achuar leaders who were partway through a 17-day journey across Canada.
Manzoni was doing his best to sell the company's PR line about why it insisted on drilling for oil in ancestral Achuar territory.
April 30, 2012 | Caroline Bennett
The Achuar people live on both sides of the Peru-Ecuador border in the Amazon rainforest. Since 2004, Calgary-based Talisman Energy has been drilling exploratory wells in a remote watershed in the heart of Achuar territory – an important hunting and fishing ground – despite strong opposition from the majority of Achuar people who live in Oil Block 64, which overlaps the majority of Achuar territory in Peru. Talisman is accused of creating divisions and provoking conflict in the region in efforts to get sign-off on their drilling in local communities, and continues to ignore calls from Achuar leadership to leave Achuar territory.
The delegation is in Canada to demand that Talisman Energy cease oil drilling in their ancestral territory. The group recently visited Ottawa, where they met with members of Parliament and NGO allies; and Fort McMurray, where they worked to build alliances with First Nations and raise awareness about Talisman's abuses against their rights.
Learn more and get involved:
- Join the Cause and help support the Achuar
- Watch video about Achuar life and culture
- Learn more about the campaign to get Talisman out of Achuar ancestral territory
- Sign up for campaign updates
April 27, 2012 | Andrew E. Miller
At the outset of an international advocacy mission featuring Amazon Watch's indigenous partners, a million things can go wrong: Visas can be denied, flights can be missed, travelers can be detained by immigration officials, etc. So our team was relieved to see our Peruvian allies appear at the Ottawa airport's baggage claim. They emerged near an indoor waterfall, evoking the sacred waterfall featured in the new documentary Chumpi and the Waterfall. The Achuar had again returned to Turtle Island – as Canada is known by some of its First Peoples – to continue their struggle for self-determination within their Amazonian homeland.
The warm welcome among friends soon collided with the harsh reality of Ottawa's frigid climate. Just outside the airport doors awaited a first taste of the inhospitable and alien environment that the Achuar would have to endure.