Eye on the Amazon: The Official Blog of Amazon Watch

Ecuadorian Government Responds with Crackdown Following 11th Round Failure

International solidarity needed!

December 5, 2013

Fundación Pachamama, gagged

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Tell Ecuador to reinstate Pachamama Foundation and end repression of civil society and indigenous peoples.

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Following last week's close of the 11th Oil Licensing Round, President Rafael Correa and the Ecuadorian government have cracked down on indigenous leaders, organizations and NGOs, including Fundación Pachamama who received an order to shut down its work to defend human rights and the rights of nature yesterday. Today, our allies have called for international solidarity demanding that they be reinstated as an NGO so they can continue their important work and to call attention to the risk that all social organizations face in Ecuador at this time.

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Pluspetrol: How Not to Clean Up the Rainforest Disaster You Have Caused

December 3, 2013

October 2012: Shanshococha has entirely disappeared at the hands of Pluspetrol. Photo credit: Alianza Arkana / FEDIQUEPThree river basins in the northern Peruvian Amazon – the Pastaza, the Corrientes, and now the Tigre – have been declared in "environmental states of emergency" as a result of decades of oil-related pollution in Block 1AB. First Occidental Petroleum (Oxy) left a "legacy of harm" and now Pluspetrol has overseen multitudinous oil spills since the year 2000. Peruvian activists recently told Amazon Watch that the question now isn't what areas of this region have been polluted, but instead what areas are actually still clean.

Our colleagues at the Arkana Alliance have been monitoring the situation closely from their headquarters in Iquitos, Peru. Below is the second in a series of blog posts about an unprecedented $7 million fine that Pluspetrol is currently facing for having 'disappeared' a rainforest lake in the territory of Quichua indigenous people. We encourage you to also read the initial blog, found here on the Alianza Arkana website.

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The Truth Has No Place in Kaplan's Court

November 26, 2013 | Paul Paz y Miño

1,400 people have died from oil pollution in Ecuador

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.

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You likely already know that Chevron (as Texaco) admitted to deliberately dumping close to 18 billion gallons of toxic foundation waters into the pristine Ecuadorian Amazon over several decades (1964-1992). The company split from Ecuador in 1992, conducted a "remediation" proven to have been a complete sham, and got a $40 million "get out of jail free" card from the government of Ecuador (which specifically did NOT exempt them from any third party action). The results of their malicious acts to save just a few dollars per barrel? A wave of cancers and birth defects (incidentally, a Texaco engineer estimated in the 60's that about $4 million would cover the costs of building industry-standard lined waste pits but Texaco thought that was too costly) and a horrific health crisis that continues to this day.

In what is one of the most unlikely and significant victories in environmental and human rights history, 30,000 indigenous people and campesinos won a $9.5 billion judgment in a class action suit after 20 years of ugly legal battles (now upheld by Ecuador's highest court). Unlikely because of the unprecedented and overwhelming pressure placed on the plaintiffs, their supporters, Ecuador and the Ecuadorian judicial system. And significant as it sets an encouraging precedent that those victimized by powerful corporate forces have hope for justice and a way to fight back.

So how on Earth could this victory be so ridiculously, unethically and illegally turned on its head and evolve into the shocking display that just played out in a US Federal Court? And what repercussions and worrisome precedents could such reckless actions hold for corporate accountability and legal processes around the world?

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Journey to the Tapajos, Rainforest Home of the Munduruku

November 21, 2013 | Maira Irigaray

Justice Now!

Join the worldwide chorus calling for justice by urging Brazil's Supreme Court to rule on lawsuits against the Belo Monte Dam!

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The Munduruku people live in the Tapajos River basin deep in the Brazilian Amazon, where they currently face numerous threats to their homeland by hydroelectric projects, illegal mining and a new waterway construction on a river that is the last major undammed tributary on the right margin of the Brazilian Amazon. But the Munduruku are exceptionally strong (who doesn't remember their historic occupation on the Xingu River earlier this year?), and recently gathered one more time to unify their message of strength and resistance during the second assembly of their movement: Ipereḡ ayu, to which Amazon Watch was honored to be invited.

The gathering happened at Restinga Village, where 412 Munduruku people from 62 villages awaited our delegation from the Xingu River with the Xingu Alive Forever Movement, partners from International Rivers, affected people from the Belo Monte dam region, and the Tapajos Alive Movement.

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Patricia Gualinga: Warrior for the Amazon

November 20, 2013 | Caroline Bennett

Patricia Gualinga, fearless Kichwa leader

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Support Patricia's struggle against oil development in the Amazon!

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"We can't feed our children oil." She stops, her eyes turning up toward an electric rainforest sky. She knows there's another way.

Meet Patricia Gualinga, a Kichwa leader from the Ecuadorian Amazon and one of the most courageous women I've had the honor of meeting anywhere. Many miles up the winding Bobonaza River deep in rainforest lives Patricia's community, the Kichwa people of Sarayaku. They call themselves the People of the Zenith, stemming from an ancient prophecy of their ancestors claiming that Sarayaku would be a pillar of territorial, cultural, and spiritual defense – a beacon of light as strong as the sun the moment it reaches the highest point above their forest lands.

"When others have surrendered, Sarayaku will not back down!" And then they prove it again and again, continuously beating back oil drilling plans on their lands, winning landmark cases in the highest international courts, and rising to symbolize indigenous resistance in the Amazon and around the world. Their recent history nothing less than tumultuous, starting in 1996 when the Ecuadorian government imposed oil concession blocks in their territory without permission from the 1,200 people who live there. Communities only learned that their land had been opened for oil exploration when strange helicopters arrived, followed by "men with guns." But instead of becoming another environmental war tragedy, the story of Sarayaku has been one of fierce resistance.

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