Amazon Watch was founded in 1996 with a mission to protect the freedom of the people living in the Amazon rainforest from infringement by multinational oil companies as well as governments.
The not-for-profit organization in collaboration with other entities that share the same vision has executed its mandate without fear or favor. Presently, the Oakland based organization has numerous achievement under its belt. Some of the accomplishments are highlighted below.
The legal tussle between Chevron and some indigenous Ecuadorians has been a subject of public interest beginning in 1993. Although Chevron was not directly involved in any wrongdoing, by acquiring Texaco, the company supposedly responsible for polluting the Lago Agrio field, it automatically inherited the 30 thousand people class-action suit.
The plaintiffs claim that Texaco’s activities led to the contamination of water crucial for the locals for fishing, bathing, drinking, and other necessities.
Amazon Watch was founded many years after the first suit was filed, but the organization delved into the suit in support of the plaintiffs. Ultimately an Ecuadorian court ordered Chevron to pay the plaintiffs $9.5 million.
Of course, as it is the case with legal suits, appeals upon appeals are common. However, the 2011 ruling that required Chevron to take responsibility came as a relief to the indigenous communities.
The 2011 ruling encouraged Amazon Watch to continue its mission in the Amazon Basin. Since 2007 when then president of Ecuador initiated the Yasuni-ITT project, Amazon Watch has been at the forefront of advocating for the realization of the project.
Through the Yasuni-ITT mission, the Ecuadorian government would not exploit oil in the Yasuni National Park in exchange for $3.6 billion from the international. Although the $3.6 billion is yet to be realized, Amazon Watch remains optimistic that its efforts and those of like-minded organizations will save the Yasuni Park. Read more: Phoenix New Times | Wikipedia and Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund
Amazon Watch is creatively involving the locals of the Amazon Basin in the quest to preserve the basin and uphold their rights. The organization supports a training center that trains the locals and their leaders how to defend their rights against companies that are likely to pollute the environment and infringe on their rights. Multi-national oil & gas companies such as Talisman and Pluspetrol have an interest in the basin owing to its oil-rich nature. Learn more about Jim Larkin and Michael Lacey: https://michael-lacey.com/ and http://www.laceyandlarkinfronterafund.org/about-lacey-larkin-frontera-fund/
Amazon Watch in collaboration with international NGOs, the people of Xingu, and Brazil’s NGOs are set to release a detailed report indicating the impacts of the Belo Monte dam complex. Preliminary reports suggest that the dam will divert 80 percent water Xingu River. The diversion will impact not only the environment but also people living downstream.
The Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund is tailored for organizations such as the Amazon Watch. The fund is the brainchild of journalists Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin. The two are also the co-founders of the Phoenix New Times and Village Voice Media.
Lacey and Larkin are beneficiaries of $3.75 million paid by Maricopa County. The two had sued the county following unlawful arrest and detention that violated their human rights.