Eye on the Amazon: The Official Blog of Amazon Watch
AW's Newest Campaigner Raps to Defend the Amazon
January 23, 2013
We're thrilled to welcome Adam Zuckerman to the Amazon Watch team as our newest Environmental and Human Rights Campaigner. Adam will be working to support indigenous community opposition to new oil concessions in the Western Amazon.
Adam blew us away when he rapped about Amazon Watch and Chevron's nasty legacy during his final hiring interview, and it's just so good we thought we'd share it with you.
Adam hit the ground running in his new role, performing that rap and speaking about Amazon Watch’s Clean up Ecuador Campaign at a protest last Saturday at the Chevron refinery in Richmond.
Adam brings a background in human rights advocacy to Amazon Watch. He spent years organizing with activist diaspora communities, and most recently worked in New York for American Jewish World Service, an international human rights nonprofit. Adam has also spent some time in the Ecuadorian Amazon and is eager to meet our partners and get back into the field in middle Earth.
January 2, 2013 | Branden Barber
Last week the world lost a great friend.
Rebecca Tarbotton, Executive Director of Rainforest Action Network, died in a tragic swimming accident while on vacation with her husband and friends in Mexico on Dec 26th, 2012...a very long week ago. Becky was taken away far too soon, and she was far too young with far too much to accomplish to be removed from our world. And yet in her brief and wonderful life, she achieved so much.
She will be remembered for her remarkable achievements and her significant efforts to make the planet a richer, greener place. From having been part of the Suzuki Foundation's first ringing of the climate change alarm to her work in northern India's Ladakh – to helping push Bank of America to stop funding coal, and finally to helping get Disney to change its publishing business to protect rainforests. (You can read her bio here.)
December 24, 2012 | Paul Paz y Miño
Last Wednesday morning, I opened my front door to take my two small children to preschool and before I could take a step a man shoved subpoena papers at me from Chevron. At that moment, I knew Amazon Watch had been doing something right in our relentless campaign to hold the company accountable for the toxic mess it left in the Ecuadorian Amazon. When a giant corporation like Chevron bothers to subpoena a small nonprofit like Amazon Watch, we know our actions are hitting hard. Never mind their audacity to come to my home, that's the least of their offenses.
Nearly 50 years ago, Texaco (now Chevron) arrived in a pristine region of the Ecuadorian Amazon, and over the course of the next two decades, caused one of the worst oil-related environmental disasters in history. As most readers of this blog know, in February of 2011 Chevron was found guilty in Ecuadorian courts for massive environmental contamination, and fined upwards of $18 billion for its crimes. Instead of owning up to its toxic legacy in the Amazon – a crime which has caused more than a thousand cancer deaths, led to an ongoing public health crisis, and has decimated indigenous cultures – Chevron has decided to "fight the verdict till hell freezes over."
What does a "fight till hell freezes over" strategy look like? Well, it's ugly. It involves high-powered (and unprincipled, often morally depraved) law firms. It involves smart (and equally twisted and cynical) public relations firms. It involves a herd of big-oil lobbyists. It involves near limitless resources (it's estimated that Chevron is spending several hundred million dollars a year to fight the Ecuador lawsuit). And it also involves a plan – in military terms known as "scorched-earth" – to destroy everything and everyone that is valuable to the people of the Ecuadorian Amazon in their pursuit of justice.
December 18, 2012 | Monica Salazar
I'm writing with a soulful message from the EDM (electronic dance music) community, straight from the hearts of two ambassadors that have long supported our work – Janine and Ken Jordan.
Janine – the Executive Director of the Electronic Music Alliance and Ken – of the two-time Grammy-nominated band The Crystal Method were in Brazil for Lollapalooza where the band performed for a crowd of 75,000. Amazon Watch Brazil Campaigner Maira was able to illustrate for Janine and Ken the urgent struggle to stop the Belo Monte dam, a devastating project being built in the heart of the Amazon. In a brave display of solidarity, Ken shouted to fans "PARE BELO MONTE!" mid-show, and has since supported our efforts by spreading this message to a large network of supporters, the dance music community.
"NOW IS THE TIME" to support Amazon Watch! Show Ken, Janine and our partners in the Amazon your solidarity – share this message with your friends and family, and make a donation NOW to help fulfill our 2012 fundraising goals and meet the many challenges ahead in the New Year.
There are many ways to show your support for Amazon Watch this holiday season:
December 12, 2012 | Christian Poirier
Last month the sixth Pan Amazon Social Forum (FSPA) brought together hundreds of community leaders, academics, and NGO representatives from across the Amazon to discuss and debate common challenges and forge collaborative solutions for a socially and environmentally sustainable future. Held in the small Bolivian city of Cobija at the Amazonian crossroads of Pando, Bolivia, with Acre, Brazil and Madre de Dios, Peru, the Forum converged diverse voices that endeavored to speak as one, seeking "Unity of Pan-Amazon peoples to transform the world."
The Forum took place as threats to the Amazon's indigenous and traditional communities have dangerously escalated, with the combination of predatory extractive industry and massive infrastructure projects placing enormous pressure on the fragile ecosystems these communities call home. Geopolitics were at the center of this gathering, casting the region's emerging hegemon under scrutiny: Brazil's growing economic and political clout has empowered the country to spread its expansionist development model to its Amazonian neighbors, exporting with it a spate of unacceptable social and environmental problems.
The FSPA came on the heels of the release of a record-setting R$22.5 billion (US$10.8 billion) loan by Brazil's National Development Bank (BNDES) for the Belo Monte dam, setting a precedent that also spells disaster for Bolivian and Peruvian communities faced with the construction of major dam and road projects by BNDES-financed Brazilian companies. As such, BNDES took center stage at the Forum as the key financial instrument enacting destructive Brazilian foreign economic policy in the Amazon.