Ecuadorians Outraged with President’s Decision to Allow Drilling in Yasuní

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Ecuadorians Outraged with President's Decision to Allow Drilling in Yasuní

Dear Mark,

In response to President Rafael Correa’s decision to terminate the historic Yasuní-ITT
initiative, an innovative plan to preserve the world’s most biodiverse rainforest in
the Yasuní National Park, hundreds of Ecuadorians have taken to the streets to protest
and are preparing a national referendum to reverse this decision.

The ground-breaking initiative launched in 2007 would keep some 920 million barrels
of oil underneath the park permanently in the ground in exchange for financial contributions
from the international community. The plan would also keep an estimated 410 million
tons of CO2 – the major greenhouse gas driving climate change – from reaching the

But Correa, citing the proposal’s lack of contributions, signed a decree to liquidate
the UNDP trust fund, and declared drilling in the national interest, a designation that
sets in motion final approval from Congress to pursue drilling.

However, recent polls show that 90% of Ecuadorians support the Yasuní-ITT initiative,
and at protests across the country they have begun to gather signatures for a national
referendum that could reverse the president’s decision to allow drilling in this part
of the park.

The park is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and contains what are thought to be the greatest
number of tree and insect species anywhere on the planet. In just 2.5 acres of the park,
there are as many tree species as in all of the U.S. and Canada combined. The area is
also home to the Waorani indigenous people, and two nomadic Waorani clans –
the Tagaeri and Taromenane – who live in voluntary isolation. Attempts to drill the
ITT fields would put their lives and livelihoods at risk.

Stay tuned for more information and ways to get involved! In the meantime, check out:

Viva Yasuní!

Kevin Koenig
Kevin Koenig
Ecuador Program Coordinator

Investors Balking on Ecuador’s Amazonian Oil Auction

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The Sarayaku forest at dawn

Last month Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa issued an apology for the oil spill that wreaked havoc on communities and ecosystems throughout the Amazon Basin. The 420,000-gallon spill flowed downstream to Peru and has impacted at least 32 indigenous communities in the Amazonian province of Loreto, prompting the Peruvian government to threaten legal action. Brazil, worried that the spill will reach its border, has alerted its navy, and Ecuador has hired U.S. company Oil Spill Response to test for contamination in Brazil and Colombia.

What the media narrative has largely missed is that there is an oil spill nearly every week in Ecuador. Just between 2000 and 2010 there were 539 oil spills. So why is this spill gathering international media attention while hundreds of others go unreported?

Read the rest on Eye on the Amazon »

Should Chevron CEO be fired?

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Tell the Chevron board of directors to fire CEO John Watson.  Imagine you were the head of Chevron. In the first couple years since you took over the company its reputation has been continually tarnished by your own actions as well as environmental and human rights crimes. Would you expect to keep your job?

Tell the Chevron board of directors to fire CEO John Watson.

Under your “leadership”:

  • Your company lost a $19 billion legal battle for intentionally polluting rainforest communities in Ecuador.
  • Amidst criticism of a poor safety record, your California refinery finally blew up, sending 15,000 to the hospital and bringing on a criminal investigation into your practices there.
  • All of Chevron’s assets in Argentina were frozen, and it now faces the loss of billions in several other nations due to enforcement efforts.
  • Chevron spilled over 100,000 gallons of crude off the coast of Brazil, costing millions in fines and inviting billions in additional suits.
  • Your company was exposed as the largest corporate SuperPAC contributor, accused of buying politicians and now in danger of FEC sanctions for violating government regulations.
  • And now Chevron is under harsh criticism for launching unprecedented legal attacks against your own shareholders, environmental and human rights groups.

If your board were actually evaluating your performance – you’d be fired.

Well, Chevron CEO John Watson has done all that and worse.

To learn more about the many reasons Chevron CEO John Watson should be fired, please visit the True Cost of Chevon website. Tell the board to do their duty and hand Watson his pink slip. For the communities in Ecuador and for so many other reasons, it’s time for Watson to go!

Paul Paz y Miño
Paul Paz y Miño
Online & Operations Director

Dams on the Amazon – Enough is Enough!

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Português | Español | Deutsch | MoreA United Cry Against Dams in the Amazon

“Our world was big. We have already lost enough lands. Now, it’s enough!”

Last week Brazil and the world witnessed a historic moment of unity and struggle for the Amazon and its people. Some 200 indigenous peoples, riverine communities and fishermen joined at the Pimental construction site of the Belo Monte dam where they continue to occupy the area. They did not come to hold discussions with the construction consortium; they want their agenda to he heard by the Brazilian Federal Government.

The group’s demands are straightforward: To clearly define the regulation of prior and informed consultation of indigenous peoples and to immediately suspend all work and studies related to dams on the rivers where they live.

Among the warrior communities present are the Munduruku people of the Tapajós River basin. According to their General Chief Saw, the government seeks to build these dams as if there were no genuine life in these places…

Read the rest on Eye on the Amazon »

This is the Newsletter of

Latest News on the Belo Monte Dam!

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The Latest on the Belo Monte Roller Coaster

Chief Raoni

Dear Mark,

Thanks to your support, this summer I was on the ground with the Amazon Watch team standing with communities on the front lines of the fight to stop the Belo Monte Dam. I dug my toes into the red clay banks of the early stages of construction and watched as 300 indigenous and local people ripped through the earthen barricade in desperate attempt to free the mighty Xingu River, if only for a moment. We need your help today to ensure that this fight continues.

The last few weeks have been marked by glorious moments of victory and new challenges. Our efforts were validated when a Brazilian judge ordered the immediate halt to construction and suspended all activities at the dam site. Hope!

This was a true win, led by indigenous and local communities and won by the collective efforts of citizens from around the world standing with them…and by you.

As we suspected might happen, President Dilma pressured a member of the Brazilian Supreme Court resulting in Chief Justice Carlos Ayres Britto overturning the decision without giving essential consideration to indigenous rights implications. Back on the roller coaster.

The Federal Public Prosecutor’s office is expected to appeal this decision and demand a review by the full Supreme Court. They must uphold the historic decision that suspended this highly controversial project just two weeks ago. Help us make this possible.

Now is THE moment to dig our toes deep into that red clay and stand steadfast, collectively, in resistance to the Belo Monte Dam. Already over a million of you from around the globe have rallied behind this effort. With your support the people of the Xingu can win.

For the Amazon,

Atossa Soltani
Atossa Soltani
Executive Director

Help stop the Belo Monte Dam – It’s not too late!

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It’s not too late to stop the Belo Monte Dam!

It's not too late to stop the Belo Monte Dam

Dear Mark,

I write to you from the frontlines of the battle to defend Brazil’s Xingu River. The indigenous peoples of the Middle Xingu are still fighting for their survival and need your help today.

Earlier this week 60 leaders from 16 indigenous communities signed a letter to the Brazilian authorities, calling for the immediate suspension of the Belo Monte dam’s construction license due to callous disregard for basic social and environmental requirements and violations of the rights of indigenous communities to free, prior, and informed consent.

The latest affront is the construction of the “cofferdams,” earthen roads built across the Xingu River designed to divert the river’s flow. This week Brazil’s indigenous foundation FUNAI and environmental agency IBAMA are discussing whether or not to authorize the definitive diversion of the waters.

They are under tremendous pressure from the highest levels of the Brazilian government and its corporate partners to approve completion of the Belo Monte coffer dams. We must counter-balance that pressure with a national and international outcry!Join us and thousands of others in sending a message to FUNAI and IBAMA today. We cannot allow the Xingu to be destroyed with the stroke of a pen.

Thank you for your continued support!

For the Xingu and its people,

Atossa Soltani
Atossa Soltani
Executive Director

CALL TO ACTION: Support Indigenous Occupation of the Belo Monte Dam Site

Amazon Watch
Support Indigenous Occupation of the Belo Monte Dam Site Now Entering Day 7

Chief Raoni
“I am very worried about the Belo Monte dam. I told the Brazilian environment minister not to build Belo Monte, because we indigenous who live on the edge of the Xingu River have our population growing. We need space. We need land.” – Chief Raoni

Dear Mark,

I wanted to share this urgent update about the escalating resistance to the destructive Belo Monte dam complex in the Brazilian Amazon. Please take a moment to read this update and support the indigenous and riverbank communities of the Xingu!

In the final days of the Rio+20 Earth Summit, several hundred members of the Xikrin, Juruna and Arara indigenous peoples affected by the Belo Monte Dam began an indigenous-led occupation of the construction site on Pimental Island in the Xingu River. The occupation – now in its 7th day – is gaining strength as more indigenous inhabitants come to join the blockade. Indigenous leaders have set up a peaceful encampment in the middle of the earthen coffer dam, confiscated keys to various trucks and earth moving equipment and stopped all construction works in the area.

This protest is specifically calling attention to the failure on the part of the dam-building consortium to address the grave impacts to the lives and livelihoods of the region’s indigenous inhabitants. These impacts are already being felt just from the early stages of dam construction and stem from the diversion of the majority of the flow of the Xingu River away from the 62-mile stretch known as the Big Bend.

On Monday, a local judge rejected an eviction order request from NESA (the dam building consortium) for the police to forcibly remove the occupiers.Tomorrow, officials from the Brazilian government agency FUNAI and Electronorte (State-owned power company and the main stakeholder in the dam) are scheduled to travel to the occupation to dialogue with the communities.

Click here to support the indigenous peoples of the Xingu and social movement leaders in the fight for the right to a healthy environment!

Meanwhile, authorities have begun a crackdown on leading members of the Movimento Xingu Vivo, the Xingu Alive Movement for organizing several actions in mid-June. At the request of Electronorte, the police authorities are considering the issue of arrest warrants for at least 11 local activists and residents. The hearing was held today and the court is expected to rule tomorrow.

Amazon Watch’s team has sprung into action mobilizing the international media and getting the story out. At the Rio+20 earth summit we accompanied indigenous leaders Chief Raoni and Sheyla Juruna as they spoke out against Belo Monte in many different spaces. This week our team is coordinating media outreach, mobilizing funding and international observers, and supporting the legal defense of the local leaders facing criminal charges and who face imminent arrests.

I am calling on your support. Please make a generous donation to the Xingu Urgent Action Fund at this critical moment to enable Amazon Watch and our local partners to carry out this important work. Don’t forget to share this update with your personal networks and stay tuned for more news.

For the Amazon Rainforest,

Atossa Soltani
Atossa Soltani
Executive Director