Oil exploitation in the Ecuadorian Amazon has done more than pollute the water and soil of one of the world's most unique and irreplacable ecosystems. It has irreversibly altered and degraded an environment that people have called home for millennia. Indigenous people who knew the forest intimately and lived sustainably off its resources for countless generations have found themselves forced into dire poverty, unable to make a living in their traditional ways when the rivers and forests are empty of fish and game. Native Amazonians and recent migrants to the area alike suffer from a health crisis that includes cancer and birth defects. For the indigenous, the physical ailments they suffer from are only accentuated by the cultural impoverishment that the oil industry has brought to the region, in many cases amounting to the almost total loss of ancient traditions and wisdom.
Neither Texaco nor the government of Ecuador consulted local people before commencing with oil activity in the Oriente. No permission was ever granted, no vote ever taken, by those whose lives were to be irrevocably changed by the arrival of Big Oil. Not until Texaco had already done its damage, packed up and left the country were the people of the Oriente able to organize to effectively defend their rights. Now they are involved in a struggle of epic proportions and worldwide consequences as they fight to hold Chevron, the inheritor of Texaco's legacy, accountable for one of the worst oil disasters on the planet.