A Journey through the ‘Continent of Hope’: ECUADOR

The Continent of Hope

A revolution is underway in South America – a revolution that few know about.

On the first leg of this South American Blog Journey, we explored a situation in Brazil that has occurred from a government pursuing short-term energy development over environment protection and social responsibility. This situation has very recently and very rapidly worsened (see press release here!) and although campaign groups and activists are coming together like never before, the situation greatly needs our support.

This week we move forward to an issue that although closely linked to subjects discussed last week, remains a unique story of a country that has seen and now experienced the dangers of irresponsible ‘growth’  at the severe cost of the health and well being of its people. Now under a new more socialist direction, the country aims to not only right that past disturbing wrong, but furthermore make rational, brave and revolutionary decisions to give Ecuador a truly fascinating chance and an inspirational future.

We start with a story of corruption, greed and severe environmental destruction and disregard -I know that doesn’t sound quite like the kind of content that would follow a title that implies a story of deep hope and inspiration, but  this story I share with you today, is re-writing history- it is a story of people power standing up to the people who remain ruthlessly powerful.

“When will our white brothers realise we cannot drink oil and we cannot eat money”. These words, muffled by cries of anguish, are those of Ramundo Xavier, an Indigenous local of a community in Ecuador and a father of two recently deceased 2-year-old twins, who died of ‘unexplained’ incidents of severe cancer. This is not an isolated case, this is a frequent occurence in the area; that is to say ever since the power of  Chevron and our excessive need for oil left it’s dirty footprint on Ecuador’s landscape…

It was as far back as the 1960’s when the then Texaco (now Chevron) oil company first started drilling in the Ecuadorian Amazon- as companies raced each other to exploit every corner of the globe for the most profitable sources of crude oil.

Taking the Fight To Chevron

After draining the area of thousands of barrels of oil, it is what Chevron has left in its wake,that remains the most severe impact to the region, leaving a harsh reality that experts

have named, the “Rainforest Chernobyl.”
Having dumped over 18 billion gallons of toxic waste water into the river systems that the local people rely on not only for their needs, but also the natural environment around them, the health of the communities is deteriorating at an unprecedented rate and with no medicinal answers to many of the illness’, the area and it’s Peoples have been on the brink of collapse- but now, finally, a much needed shift is materializing…

I  recommend the following film (here in trailer form) to anyone. It is moments like these, when communities of people stand up against injustice that I feel a huge amount of hope for any difficulties this continent of colour is having to endure.

The court case is still very much underway so I urge you too stay update at the campaigns main hub.
Whatever the outcome, history is being made. To quote a friend, “this is no longer about leading people against the powerful, now it is about making the people powerful”.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, Ecuador inspires me.

It’s current leader Rafael Correa has like many South American nations, lead his country in a far more socialist direction. He remains on the side of the plaintiffs committed to holding Chevron accountable and has therefore grown stronger ties with neighbours Bolivia and Venezuela to ensure this type of corporate power is never again exercised in the region.
He was recently quoted for saying,” It is time we broke the ties and false beliefs that we rely on the US to function as a country- anyone who believes this- american, ecuadorian or otherwise, is kidding themselves.” As a result, Correa made the revolutionary promise to leave Ecuadors oil reserves “untapped forever”, stating, “that in times of climate change and an uncertain future, I hope other countries will see the urgency for such a policy and make similar commitments”.

To urge you to read the full story here.

In my next post on South America, it is time to take a trip to Bolivia, where we look at the effects of having an indigenous president, in the form of the inspirational, radical and much needed figure of Evo Morales. Together we will look at the countries thirst for change and Evo’s deep belief that he has the answers. Learning from Ecuadors mistakes in the Chevron saga, Morales is nationalising all resource companies in the country, in a bid to protect his people from the exploitation of foreign interest. Do come back for part three of our South American Journey.

I welcome your thoughts in the comment section below.

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