Eye on the Amazon: The Official Blog of Amazon Watch
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.
May 23, 2012 | Paul Paz y Miño
Take Action Now!
Help spread the word about ClearWater! Share this video with your friends and family.
Shame on Chevron. Actions speak louder than words and it's incumbent upon the global community to take action where Chevron refuses to. Today a community-led initiative – ClearWater – is providing clean drinking water to tens of thousands of Ecuadorians left with nothing but Chevron's toxic contamination.
May 23, 2012 | Iara Lee
In every corner of the world, we see unfathomably huge hydroelectric dams that destroy entire ecosystems and indigenous livelihoods. The notorious Three Gorges Dam in China has its rivals on all other continents, from the proposed Grand Inga in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the James Bay Project in Canada. In these and many other examples, the results have been similar: thousands are displaced from their homes, species are going extinct, farmland is flooded and rendered useless, and water-borne diseases flourish. Despite the many alternatives to these projects and the potential for improving energy efficiency, the mega-dams of the 20th century are only growing bigger and more popular in the 21st.
The Belo Monte Dam and the Xingu River
A few years ago, my film crew had the opportunity to travel to the Xingu River, a tributary of the Amazon, where the Brazilian government has for decades tried to build the Belo Monte, which would be the world's third largest hydroelectric dam. Our crew's visit coincided with a summit in the city of Altamira, where 1,000 people from various indigenous communities joined national and international supporters to express their unequivocal opposition to the project. The broad mobilization was inspired in part by credible estimates that 20,000 people would be displaced from their traditional territory. Some experts say that 40,000 would be affected if the dam were built.
We produced a short film, Battle for the Xingu, in which we interview some participants in the summit and visit some of the affected communities. Advocacy groups have used the film to inform the international community about the project's implications and it has screened at many short film festivals worldwide.
The film explores the tension between violent and nonviolent tactics in resisting this project. In particular. indigenous activists used a symbolic act of violence in which they cut a dam advocate's arm to represent their commitment to preventing the dam's construction. While we applaud the movement's decision to overwhelmingly embrace nonviolent tactics, in this film we wanted to show the tensions that arise when communities feel they have few options in preventing the destruction of their homeland.