Eye on the Amazon: The Official Blog of Amazon Watch
September 6, 2013
It's Time to Fire Chevron's CEO!
Tell the Chevron board of directors to fire CEO John Watson. Since he took over, the company's bad behavior has only gotten worse.
September 6, 2013 | Adam Zuckerman
It has been a tumultuous few weeks in Ecuador since President Rafael Correa's decision to terminate the historic Yasuní-ITT initiative, an innovative plan to preserve one of the most biodiverse swaths of rainforest on the planet. His decision to tap the three oil fields that lie beneath the Yasuni National Park has sparked ongoing protests in cities throughout the country, actions in the U.S. and Canada by Ecuadorians living abroad, and powerful condemnations from CONFENAIE, the confederation of indigenous peoples of Ecuador's Amazon, CONAIE, the national indigenous organization, and the communities affected by Chevron's toxic legacy of oil contamination and rights abuses. It continues to dominate national media, garnering headlines, special coverage, and investigative pieces, as well as social media within Ecuador, with the president himself responding by Twitter to his critics.
Supporters seeking to keep the Ishpingo, Tambococha, and Tiputini (ITT) oil fields permanently underground are seeking a national referendum to reverse the president's decision, and are awaiting a decision from the Constitutional Court and the National Election Commission. If approved, they would need some 600,000 signatures to get the issue on the ballot for a special election.
The backlash has caught the administration by surprise. It has been more widespread—on the streets and virtually—than they ever imagined. Correa still boasts some of the highest approval ratings of any president in South America, and has presided over the country's longest period of political stability in recent history. But the Yasuní controversy has polarized the country in a way few other issues have since he took power in 2007, and may represent one of the largest threats to his administration and legacy to date.
September 3, 2013 | Zachary Hurwitz
Join the worldwide chorus calling for justice by urging Brazil's Supreme Court to rule on lawsuits against the Belo Monte Dam!
O Globo reported the news in Brazil last month, reporting that the traffickers decided to begin their business to take advantage of the huge movement of construction workers to the towns of Altamira and Vitória do Xingu, 10km away from the dam's construction site.
Rights and Responsibility: The Failure of Yasuní-ITT and What it Means for Ecuador’s Indigenous Peoples
August 25, 2013 | Adam Zuckerman
In the wake of President Rafael Correa's decision to terminate the historic Yasuní-ITT initiative the big question has been: Who is to blame for the initiative's failure? In his announcement last Thursday evening, Correa made his position clear, "The world has failed us...It was not charity that we sought [from the international community]. It was shared responsibility in the fight against climate change."
Correa was not wrong for blaming the industrialized world for not funding Yasuní-ITT; rich countries were reluctant to contribute to a climate initiative that did not grant them carbon credits, and it didn't help that a global financial collapse came just months after Ecuador launched the initiative. However, amidst all of his finger pointing, Correa failed to mention his role in undermining the initiative's credibility.
Yasuní-ITT makes up 12% of the one million hectare Yasuní National Park, part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve that may be the most biodiverse place on Earth. It contains more endemic tree species in one hectare (2.5 acres) than there are in all of the U.S. and Canada combined. This PBS infographic shows that while the park is the size of Delaware, it contains as many species of reptiles (121) as there are in all of Europe. The park supports as many species of birds (596) and as many species of mammals (187) as there are in all of Canada. Perhaps more importantly, the park is territory of the Waorani indigenous people, and two nomadic Waorani clans – the Tagaeri and Taromenane – who live in voluntary isolation.
August 20, 2013 | Reagan Kuhn
Indigenous communities from the Corrientes river basin are anxiously awaiting whether the Peruvian government is going to declare an Environmental State of Emergency in their lands, as they nearly promised this past week.
A multi-sectoral commission released their test results on contamination in the Corrientes river basin earlier this month, which revealed life threateningly high levels of contaminants.
Selected leaders from the region met with officials from the Ministry of the Environment (MINAM) last week to demand action. The Minister of the Environment, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, assured them that they would respond in the coming weeks, after they are finished analyzing the results. Once a declaration of emergency is announced, Pulgar-Vidal said, they would carry out actions within 90 days to address the situation.