Latin American Social Movements Midterm Presentation
Meghan Luce Midterm Presentation AANT472 Professor LittleEcuador Indigenous take oncorporate giant ChevronPhoto courtesy of TIME
Chevron operated in Ecuador from 1964-1990. 1During this time the company used a flawed system of oilextraction with poor standards. 1This caused extensive damage to the Amazon rainforest andthe indigenous people.1It is estimated that in order to clean up the damage left byChevron $18-$27 billion dollars is needed. 1This is often call the Amazon Chernybol and is 30 times largerthan the Exxon Valdez disaster (1989 oil tanker spills 10.8 milliongallons in the Prince William Sound. 2
History: Why was Chevron inEcuador? In 1964 Texaco (later bought by Chevron) started drilling for crude oil in the Amazon Rainforest. The operated there until 1990, drilling more than 900 oil pits. Oil pit in Ecaudor
Photo courtesy of Tree Hugger.Chevron admits Texaco dumped over 18 million gallons of toxic wasteinto the Amazon waterways.Texaco also abandoned more than 900 waste pits of gases withdisregard to safety measures or controls.17 million gallons of oil was spilt by pipeline ruptures & dumped millionsof gallons of oil waste along dirt roadsTexaco never conducted health or environment impact studies while inoperation in Ecuador.
PetroEcuador workers clean up an oil spill.PetroEcuador bought the sites and equipment in the early 1990sfrom Texaco, after spending 26 years creating one of the worstoil spills in history. 3PetroEcuador has had many oil spills during their operation forover 20 years, partly due to the inadequate infrastructure andmachinery inherited from Texaco.Chevron argues that they are not responsible for the damages,and PetroEcuador and the government of Ecuador shouldfinance the cleanup and demands of the Indigenouscommunity.
Photo courtesy of Life In EcuadorDamages: Environmental Devastationin the AmazonChevron fought for 9 years to avoid trial in the U.S.The court appointed 14 science & technology experts toanalyze 62,000 sampling results.The extensive Texaco contamination of all 94 test sitesinspected.
Shuar indigenous nation. With their 2 deceased daughters, Maria Graciela died when she was 24, and Rosa died at 12. 1Effects: Exploitation & UnregulatedIndustrialization and in the AmazonCancer & oil-related health problems have surged.Court expert estimated 1,041 excess deaths from cancer due to oil contamination.Indigenous groups have lost 95% of ancestral land due to contamination and one groupthe Tetetes have disappeared.The Indigenous people are afflicted with diseases never seen in the rainforest.1
Demands & the Coalition todefend National SovereintyThe people of Ecuador formed a Coalition to:‘demand clarity in the case, to stand watch to ensure that thetrial develops transparently and with respect for the judicialprocess, and that this fight is one fought by all Ecuadorians forChevron to be held responsible for cleaning, remediation andrestoration, the fundamental wish of the 30,000 aggrievedplaintiffs.’ 1Supporting the Indigenous community ‘demonstrates that theeffective exercise of constitutional rights (such as the right toan uncontaminated environment) cannot be blocked bycontract, law, or any act of government, as any governmentact is subject to legal principles.’ 1
Success: The slow road to progress in EcuadorA major win for the case was the right to have Chevron tried inU.S. courts since Ecuador’s political has a history of corruption. 1PetroEcuador has agreed to clean up parts of the land in thedisputed areas, and has started to re-inject its waste water. 3Unless the case is settled outside of court, observers expectatleast ten more years of litigation. 5
Ecuadorian community leaders and citizens protest Chevron infront of its headquarters in California on October 3, 2012. Manpictured in Ecuadorian lawyer representing Indigenouscommunities.
Members of Indigenous communities affectedprotest against the actions of Chevron.
Strategies: A Global IssueThe Amazon is called the ‘Lungs of the Earth’ making thecontamination and destruction of the rainforest a majorenvironmental issue. 5The Movement has used the help of many internationalNGO’s to help bring the issue to the media and gain supportglobally.After years of dealing with a corrupt political system, theMovement has gained the support of the EcuadorianPresident Rafeal Correa, to help fight for justice and backgovernment indicatives to help the Indigenous communities.5
The Movement The basis of the 30,000 strong Movement for Environmental clean up and Human Rights. Texaco spent 28 years in theModesta Briones, who used to bathe Amazon and Indigenousand wash clothes just downstream communities have beenfrom an oil well, had her leg fighting for rights andamputated to remove a cancerous reparation for over 15. 5tumor. Five years after her surgery,Briones died when the cancer spreadthrough her body.
Similarities: Other influentialmovements in Latin AmericaMaquilador Movement of Mexico: Similar to themovement in Ecuador, they both were fightingbattles with large transnational companies for thereparation and cleanup of environmental disasters.The movement is also similar to the case of 200people from Junin Ecuador that organized to stopmining by Bishi Metals (a subsidary of Mitsubishi Corp)in 1997. This is an example of grassroots resistance toneoliberation, of 200 people confronting 3 largeenities; The Mitsubishi Corp, the EcuadorianGovernment and the World Bank.
An Amazonian family walks a lot the polluted road.As demonstrated in other readings, large areas inLatin America are starting to resist and over turndecades of transnational dominance, corruption,and exploitation of rights. The road ahead for thejustice of 30,000 people against neoliberaleconomics and policy has proven to be achallenge, but also provided a space to developnational identity and unity.
Work Cited:1. Amazon defense coalition. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://texacotoxico.org/eng/2. Exxon valdez oil spill facts. (2012). Oceana; Protecting the Worlds Oceans. Retrieved from http://oceana.org/en/our-work/stop-ocean- pollution/oil-pollution/learn-act/exxon-valdez-oil-spill- facts3. Chevron toxico; the campaign for justice in ecuador. (2000, 2012). Retrieved from http://chevrontoxico.com/4. Berlinger, J. (Producer) (n.d.). Crude: A joe berlinger film [Theater]. Available from http://www.crudethemovie.com/5. Circle of blue| waternews. (2012). Retrieved from www.circleofblue.org