Indigenous Ecuadorean Leader Travels from Amazon Rainforest to California to Gather Support from Lawmakers to Push Chevron to Clean up Environmental Disaster
Senator Fran Pavley and Assemblymember Jared Huffman Host Reception for Emergildo Criollo
03 March 2010 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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Sacramento, CA – Today, an Indigenous leader from Ecuador is meeting with California legislators and asking for their support in a 16+ year campaign to demand Chevron remediate massive oil contamination affecting over 30,000 people. Emergildo Criollo has traveled from his home in Ecuador's Amazon rainforest region to deliver a direct message to Chevron's new CEO John Watson, along with more than 325,000 petitions signed by people in over 150 countries, supporting his appeal. Along with supporters from Amazon Watch and Rainforest Action Network, Emergildo will speak with lawmakers about the impact of California's largest company in Ecuador, and what they can do to support his community's call for environmental cleanup and action to prevent such tragedies in the future.
Senator Fran Pavley and Assemblymember Jared Huffman are hosting an reception for Cofan Indigenous leader Emergildo Criollo Wednesday evening entitled, "From Ecuador to California: California's largest corporation, one of the world's worst oil related disasters, and what California's legislators can do."
Of the work environmental and human rights advocates are doing to expose Chevron's negligent practices in Ecuador, Assemblymember Huffman stated "Amazon Watch and Rainforest Action Network are doing heroic work to educate Americans about the impacts of oil and gas development in developing countries like Ecuador, and to remedy a very serious environmental and human tragedy."
During decades of drilling, Chevron (then Texaco) spilled 17 million gallons of crude oil, left 917 unlined crude pits, and deliberately dumped 18 billion gallons on toxic waste. Local people have since suffered a wave of birth defects, illness, cancers, and death. Tens of thousands of community members have had their water supply poisoned, more than 1400 are reported to have died of cancer and thousands more have been afflicted by other oil-related illnesses are a results of Chevron's negligence.
Emergildo Criollo has lost two sons and nursed a wife through uterine cancer. His family drank, bathed, and fished in water that was poisoned by oil dumping. Emergildo is a leader of the Cofan people, one of the major indigenous groups in the region who have suffered a severe impact on their population and culture since the arrival of Texaco (now Chevron).
"I have come to the home of Chevron to tell our story – how our women and children are sick and dying from Chevron's contamination. We want what anyone would, to be healthy and happy, to have clean water and safe food to eat, to have shelter and dignity," said Emergildo Criollo. "Chevron robbed us of our livelihoods many years ago, and I am here on behalf of thousands of brothers and sisters to demand that Chevron take responsibility for their actions and clean up our rivers, our forests, and our homes."
Chevron is facing a potential $27 billion pollution judgment in an Ecuadorean court for the unprecedented environmental and public health disaster.