October 27, 2009
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(Latin Pulse: October 27, 2009) Thousands of people representing Ecuador’s indigenous tribes are suing Chevron-Texaco over the pools of toxic wastewater the company left behind. Following Chevron-Texaco’s 30 years of profit from indigenous lands and resources, the tribes are seeking 27.3 billion dollars from the California-based corporation for the clean-up. We talk with Joe Berlinger about his new film on the case, Crude, and with Amazon Watch about the worst environmental disaster since Chernobyl. But Chevron-Texaco is not the only problem for the indigenous communities of Ecuador; the native population is taking to the streets, demanding a seat at the negotiating table with the government in order to contest other proposed developments on their territories.
Ecuador wants money not to drill in Amazon – 27 Oct 09
October 26, 2009
Ecuador’s president is in London this week to promote a unique proposal: pay his country around $4 billion not to drill for oil in a pristine Amazon reserve.
Germany and Spain have expressed interest in Rafael Correa’s idea, which environmentalists say could set a precedent in the fight against global warming by lowering the high cost to poor countries of going green.
Correa is scheduled to meet with British MPs on Wednesday to discuss the proposal and plans to travel to Canada, France, Sweden, Belgium and the United States in November.
The June 2008 deadline for this proposal to save Yasuní has been extended, but time is running out and the oil companies are poised, ready to drill.
“This is the first time the government of a major oil-producing country has voluntarily offered to forego lucrative oil extraction in order to help combat climate change,” said Matt Finer, a staff scientist for Save America’s Forests and author of a study on Correa’s initiative.
But Correa’s idea is two years old and he has yet to receive a firm cash commitment.
Under the plan, rich countries would pay Ecuador at least half the revenues that the 850 million barrels of heavy crude oil estimated to be in Ecuador’s remote Yasuni National Park would be expected to generate over the next 10 years – or about $4 billion.
Ecuador says not drilling for the oil would keep 410 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere, a figure that has caught the attention of green-conscious governments in Europe.
But this month, Germany contradicted Ecuador’s claims that it had already committed $50 million over 13 years to the initiative.
“The amount of a potential donation and the method and period over which it would be paid have yet to be determined,” Associated Press quoted an unnamed German government official as saying last week in Berlin.
The official said Germany supports the idea but its participation is dependent on recruiting other donors and expanding the amount of land protected from development under the initiative.
Correa’s proposal would block drilling in three oil fields in Yasuni, but it does not explicitly prohibit development in the rest of the park.
It was declared a biosphere reserve by the United Nations and is home to Amazon Indian tribes living in voluntary isolation.
In Ecuador, companies can drill in national parks if a president deems it a matter of national interest.
While Spain is still considering how much to donate, it has already spent $200,000 to help Ecuador set up a fund to implement the project, Spain’s top Latin America official, Juan Pablo de Laiglesia, told Ecuador’s El Comercio newspaper this month.
Ecuador’s foreign minister, Fander Falcon, says the international trust fund will be ready by mid-November.
Carolina Azevedo, the United Nations Development Program spokeswoman, said Ecuador has requested technical support to manage the fund.
Ecuador is an Opec member that depends on oil for a third of its national budget.
The three oil fields in Yasuni represent 20 per cent of its crude oil reserves.
In our video, Lucia Newman reports from the remote Yasuni region, a part of the Amazon rainforest of extraordinary but fragile ecological and cultural richness in eastern Ecuador.
Updated: Oct. 29, 2009
Ecuador oil pollution case takes new turn – 29 Oct 09
A high-stakes legal battle between the worlds second largest oil company and residents of Ecuador’s Amazon region is heating up.
Lawyers for the local people who say their lives have been ruined by Chevron are making new claims about secret videos that have put the trial on hold.
Those videos show the Ecuadorean judge overseeing the $27bn lawsuit in an apparently compromising meeting with businessmen. Chevron, which leaked the tapes in August to claim that the trial was unsound, has now admitted that its lawyers met with one of the businessmen at the time the recordings were made. Chevron had previously denied any knowledge of the meetings.
Ecuador’s government has insisted that the tapes were doctored to try to discredit the trial and give Chevron more time to work on its legal strategy to avert paying damages.
Lucia Newman, Al Jazeera’s Latin America editor, reports from Ecuador on the case, and Karen Hinton, a spokesperson for the plaintiffs, talks about the recent developments in the lawsuit.
CORRECTION: the individual named in this package as ‘Pedro Fajardo’ is actually Pablo Fajardo.
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