Eye on the Amazon: The Official Blog of Amazon Watch

COP Out? Peru Pulling the Plug on Environmental Oversight in View of COP 20

March 26, 2014 | Sydney Morical

Solidarity Is Revolution

Peru was selected to host the COP 20 this December, widely considered to be the paramount meeting on global climate change strategy. Yet only recently, the Peruvian Minister of Energy and Mines, Eleodoro Mayorga Alba, announced that a new Peruvian law would potentially eliminate submission and approval of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) for oil and gas companies during the seismic testing phase. This means that already haphazard and irresponisbly enforced oversight practices required for petroleum companies would be further undercut, no longer requiring participatory environmental research prior to exploration.

The news has caused a firestorm of protest from scientists, civil society organizations, and indigenous groups. With COP 20 hovering on the horizon, this is not the kind of leadership demonstrated by a nation purporting to be on the forefront of sustainable development. 

Leading indigenous organization, AIDESEP, claiming to represent more that 1,400 indigenous communities in the Amazon, echoed this sentiment in their statement, titled ''21st Century Oil and Gas Firms with 18th Century Laws?': "And don't respond to us with the stupid claim: 'You're opposed to development.' You've been 'developing' us for 40 years along the Pastaza, Corrientes, Marañón, Ucayali and Urubamba Rivers and we're now worse off, although the amount of cement, alcohol and AIDS has increased. What we request is a respectful, well-supported debate and agreement that will benefit Peru."

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Don't Buy Chevron's Big Lie!

March 25, 2014 | Paul Paz y Miño

Don't Buy Chevron's Big Lie!

Global Warming is a Myth

The NSA is Not Really Spying on Americans

The CIA Doesn't Torture Prisoners

Chevron Has Been Exonerated from Ecuador Disaster

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From Floods to Drought, Brazil's Energy Sector Faces a Catastrophic Year

March 13, 2014 | Christian Poirier

Massive flooding backed up behind the Jirau dam on the Madeira River: the Brazilian government’s development model for the Amazon? Photo: acpurus.com

Justice Now!

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


Albert Einstein once said, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." It is evident that the Brazilian government's energy planners dismiss such wisdom, renewing their preposterous dam-driven logic in response to the latest crisis, and imperiling the Amazon's peoples, rivers, and forests in the process. But the winds of climate change continue to blow, bringing with them crippling drought and disastrous floods that could wash away this house of cards.

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Profiles: Sônia Guajajara, A Powerful Voice for Brazil’s Indigenous Peoples

March 10, 2014

Sônia Guajajara

Meet Sônia Bone Guajajara, the national coordinator of Brazil's Association of Indigenous Peoples (APIB) and tireless spokeswoman for the country's indigenous movement. She hails from a Guajajara village in the state of Maranhão and was vice-coordinator of the Brazilian Amazon's indigenous network COIAB for four years prior to assuming her national leadership position in Brasilia.

Today Sônia regularly confronts her adversaries from Brazil's ruralista agribusiness bloc face-to-face, steadfastly pushing back against their manifold attacks on indigenous rights. This week she brings this struggle to a growing European public, where she'll be speaking at the United Nations in Geneva and leading a series of public events in Paris. Amazon Watch is proud to accompany Sônia's courageous efforts in Europe and will be bringing you live updates and stories from her delegation activities there.

Sônia's trip to Europe comes at a critical moment as a spate of Brazil's political and economic interests – including the Dilma Rousseff government – attempt to dismantle the fundamental indigenous right to be consulted about development decisions that concern native lands and livelihoods. In particular, the Brazilian government's rush to dam Amazon rivers brutally disregards the right to free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) of affected and threated indigenous communities.

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Amazonas: Guardians of Life

March 8, 2014 | Caroline Bennett, special thanks Felipe Jácome

© Felipe Jacome

"My name is Hueiya. I live in the Waorani community called Ñoneno. I fight for my community, so that in the future our children don't suffer and can live in peace breathing clean air. I fight so my children don't have to suffer, so that their land continues to be fertile and free of pollution, so that our rivers continue to be clean so they can drink clean water. I fight for all children who are yet to be born in this earth."

Meet Alicia Cahuilla – given name Hueiya – a courageous Waorani warrior from the Ñoneno community deep in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Alicia's Waorani family has lived on the edge of Ecuador's Yasuní National Park, one of the most biodiverse remaining wild places on the planet, for thousands of years. Like much of the Ecuadorian Amazon, until the 1960's this ancestral territory was a pristine expanse of life-giving trees and clean flowing streams. Today Ñoneno is wedged between two bustling oil fields, Cononaco and Armadillo, where the Ecuadorian government is pushing to expand oil production into the heart of Yasuní. Alicia, who is also the vice president of the Waorani Indigenous Federation, does not agree and has voiced concerns to her community, federation, the Ecuadorian government and the world.

"We are struggling for Yasuní because it is our home. President Correa wouldn't like it if oil companies went to his home and tore it down like they come and cut trees and build roads in our rainforest homes," she told a crowd of women at an international Rights of Nature conference that included Yasuní ambassador Vandana Shiva.

Experts continue to state that in order to avoid the worst of impending climate change impacts, most of the planet's remaining fossil fuel resources should remain under ground. Ecuador's Yasuni-ITT initiative, launched in 2007, would have been an inventive plan to keep oil exploration out of the country's most pristine rainforest and to protect Alicia's homeland, the Waorani and the many other indigenous peoples living there. Ecuador abandoned the plan last year, and the global attempt to save the region now rests largely on the shoulders of the indigenous peoples and their NGO allies who have pledged to fight to keep oil companies out.

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