This documentary is a demonstration of selflessness of the greatest kind. Having been to the Amazon, revering it as one of the greatest spots for biodiversity in the world and the "lungs of the planet", this film hits home with me.
For 13 years, 30,000 Ecuadorians, one lawyer, one advocate, and numerous rainforest charities have been fighting a "David and Goliath" battle against one of the biggest corporations in America; Chevron/Texaco. Their funds small and their hearts big, they've taken on this case throughout numerous Ecuadorian presidents and now a new Judge in the case (hence the time it has taken to come to a final decision). Meanwhile, native Amazonian Ecuadorians continue to get sick and perish upon large oil waste sites on which they've unknowingly built their homes. They continue to drink and bathe in river water that has been contaminated by petrochemicals for centuries. All this in a once-pristine jungle landscape where some of the natives had never seen white men before the arrival of Texaco.
Tears streamed from my eyes when a woman told her story about both her and her daughter having cancer - her daughter only 18 years old. They travel 18 hours to the hospital for the treatments that they *can* afford. Though she has tried to raise chickens to earn money for these treatments, they have all died from drinking the contaminated water. Many of the tribesmembers now develop cancer at age 17 or 18, living next door to Texaco's abandoned refineries. 16 out of 20 babies born in the region develop skin rashes all over their bodies before even reaching 6 months old.
The documentary is not entirely one-sided, however. They show footage of both lawyers' arguments. If you didn't realize that every word coming from the defendant council's mouth was a lie, you might almost believe what Chevron has to say. However, independent tests on the land prove obvious contamination deep in the soil, in the rivers that run through many villages, and in the water systems which come directly from the rivers (the villagers' only source of water).
Over the years, celebrity involvement in the cause has developed. An article on the young Ecuadorian lawyer who represents these 30,000 Amazonian Ecuadorians was published in Vanity Fair magazine. And many charities, including the Rainforest Foundation UK, the founders of which are Sting and his wife, have become interested. They can use all the help they can get, of course. With Chevron rich enough to bribe government officials in a corrupt Ecuadorian system, it seems almost impossible to make headway on the case. The young lawyer was fresh out of his studies when he took on this case. He lives in a simple home, as do most Ecuadorians, practices in a one-room office with little decor, little paint, little *anything* really, and is just so humble. This compared to suited-and-tied lawyer giants in offices you can imagine are close to hotel suites. Texaco tries to blame PetroEcuador, who took over their drilling and refinery sites a number of years ago, for the environmental and health damage to the area and people, but the truth is; Texaco came in and founded the sites, built their empire by tearing down a pristine and natural environment, didn't want to spend the money to properly dispose of their petrochemical waste, and dumped gallons of oil into the jungle, which still slowly leaks into the ground and water system with no sign of stopping. Chevron: though nothing can truly compensate for the deaths of these innocent people, and for the disrupted lifestyles they are now forced to lead because of your intervention, you have the resources to at least pay them the due they are asking for in damages, and to come clean up the horrific mess you made. Just stop this useless money war and PAY YOUR DUE! It's just not worth the profit.
This case is still pending. With a new Judge now on the case, a room-full of literature must be re-read by him in order to begin presiding upon it again. Developments have taken place though having to do with media and the rights to free speech. To read about these developments, check out check Bill Moyers' blog at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bill-moyers/chevrons-crude-attempt-to_b_576595.html
To sign a petition telling Chevron to clean up its mess, go here: