This has been one of the worst years ever for Chevron. From it’s ongoing massive legal losses in Ecuador, to offshore disasters in Brazil and Nigeria, to the tragic deaths of its employees in several locations, including right here in California.
This is the second in a series of statements we’re posting as we prepare for a week of what is sure to be inspired 99% Spring protest against Chevron’s irresponsible and destructive business practices (read the first statement, by Kazakhstan’s Sergey Solanyik, here). These statements are by people from around the world (and from right here in the Bay Area) letting us know what it really means to live in the communities where Chevron operates. Many will travel to San Ramon, CA to bring their calls for justice directly to the company’s executives, board members, and shareholders at Chevron’s annual shareholder meeting on May 30. You can view all of the statements at TrueCostOfChevron.com. If you want to join the protest on May 30, RVSP and find details here.
Today’s statement is from Luz Trinidad Andrea Cusangua. Luz is a successful ecological farmer despite the widespread oil contamination that surrounds her land. There is an oil well just 100 meters from her home, and the nearest source of fresh water, the river Wilya, is contaminated by Chevron’s oil. Luz is also a mother and grandmother, and knows the ravages of Chevron’s oil pollution all too well: her children have suffered from various illnesses, such as skin disease, and her mother was diagnosed with skin cancer that doctors attribute to the oil.
Luz speaks movingly of the need for clean water for her family and the rest of her community. RAN was proud to support the launch today of a locally led project called ClearWater that is providing safe, clean drinking water to the Ecuadoreans living with the oily mess Chevron refuses to clean up. Find out how you can support the project at GiveClearWater.org.
Here’s Luz’s statement to Chevron, which she will deliver to the company herself in San Ramon on May 30:
I am preparing to travel to the United States to speak, in person, about all of the harm that Texaco (now Chevron) left in our Amazon rainforest. Texaco contaminated our forest, leaving many people sick with cancer; the rivers poisoned; and the soil as well; so much flora and fauna destroyed. I am going to attend the shareholder meeting, and I am going to speak directly to the boss of Chevron, and look him in the eye, and tell him about what our people have suffered through because of the harm that his company caused in our beautiful forest. Many people have lost their lives or the lives of their loved ones as a result of the arrogance, the irresponsibility and the brute behavior of the American company here in our forest. I wonder if the boss of Chevron, Mr. Watson, will be able to feel our pain?
We have won the lawsuit against Chevron, but still the company doesn’t want to accept responsibility for what they have done. They have no shame. They remain arrogant. They call us liars. But I have lived through the contamination that they left here. They can’t contradict me! The river close to my house was our source of life, and when Texaco drilled the wells Sacha 89, 90, 91 and even Sacha 5 and 13, the river became filled with oil. My children suffered because of the contamination. Their feet rotted, they had warts and rashes on their skin. And my mother got cancer on her nose. Do you think that there would be so much cancer in a virgin forest? I remember the nights when my feet would burn, and I would cry from pain, and slowly my feet would start to rot, and the skin would fall off piece by piece. All of this sickness was caused by the contamination that Chevron left here in the Amazon.
The animals also began to die; the birds and the capibaras. That’s why in many places we don’t see animals anymore. I have planted fruit trees on my property so that animals would return. I am an ecological farmer. On my land I have coconuts, cacao, coffee, heliconia, orquids, medicinal plants, and Amazonian fruit trees. I have learned much from the indigenous people here, the Cofan, Siona, Secoya, and Quichua. And I have made a great effort to create a land that is healthy, but it is almost impossible when the rivers are contaminated. And that is why I am going to go to the United States to demand our rights. We all have the right to clean water. And no one has the right, not even the most powerful multinational company in the world, to take that right away.
That is why I am going to tell the senores of Chevron that we are people just like them. They like to have clean water, and we also have the right to clean water. I would like them to come here and drink the water; I know that they won’t like it; they will want purified water. We are people just like them. We have feelings just like them. Why do they want to discriminate against us? So much contamination! They left Ecuador with so much of our money, and they left us nothing. They made money and we were left with a tremendous pain without being able to recover what we had lost. I am going to the United States to demand justice from Chevron!
This post originally appeared on City Brights.