19 May 2011
With passport hiccups and plane ticket changes and communication difficulties, it took days for Carmen Zambrano to get from the Ecuadorian Amazon to Quito and onto a plane bound for Washington DC. Finally, she arrived in DC to meet the other two Ecuadorian delgates – Servio and Humberto – and ready to tell her story of living with the calamitous effects of Chevron's contamination.
But for Carmen, the trial of traveling from the Amazon rainforest to the U.S. capital is nothing compared to the daily impact of living amidst the environmental devastation sown by Chevron in the oil boom-town of Shushufindi, the ancestral territory of the Siona people. Around dinners with family and during visits with neighbors, the conversations are littered with condolences for a loved one suffering from cancer, advice for a mother whose child is growing up with developmental disabilities, debate over which stream or well has water that is less laced with toxins.
Carmen has now come to the United States to share her story, and to press Chevron to take responsibility for its toxic legacy in her community, and the Amazon region of Ecuador. Carmen is part of a delegation of two other inspiring leaders from the Ecuadorian Amazon, traveling on behalf of 30,000 affected people in Ecuador, to demand that Chevron finally own up to its responsibility in Ecuador buy cleaning up its toxic legacy.