EcoJustice Radio celebrates the land and water protectors of the Amazon Rainforest in a Three-Part series called Amazon Defenders. We begin Part One in the Western Amazon to understand how activists are confronting the dirty legacy of oil extraction, stopping the expansion of new oil leases, and protecting the rainforest biodiversity. Paul Paz y Miño from Amazon Watch speaks on biodiversity of Western Amazon Rainforest and protecting it from mining and drilling interests, especially oil drilling in Ecuador. LISTEN TO PART TWO – PART THREE
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Rise of the Amazon Rainforest Defenders
The Amazon River Basin of South America is home to half of the world’s tropical forests, with 33% of all plant and animal biodiversity thriving in impenetrable wildernesses. In this episode, we focus on the Western Amazon to understand how activists are confronting the dirty legacy of oil extraction, stopping the expansion of new oil leases, and protecting the rainforest biodiversity.
Oil corporations and their governmental enablers are pushing to drill deeper into the rainforest by building roads and railroad lines, cutting old growth trees, and invading indigenous sovereign territories and protected biospheres.
Yet the international resistance is building and communities are fighting back. Can this incredible ecosystem be protected, allowing Indigenous societies and wildlife to thrive?
Our guest Paul Paz y Miño, Associate Director of Amazon Watch, provides an overview of the rich significance of the Amazon, expands upon what is happening in the Western Region and the connection to California and the United States, and speaks to the growing resistance protecting the rainforest and the rights of Indigenous peoples.
Drilling in the Western Amazon
The exploitation and destruction for a product responsible for breaking the global climate system continues today at a fevered pace. Oil corporations and their governmental enablers are pushing to drill deeper into the rainforest by building roads and railroad lines, cutting old growth trees, and invading indigenous sovereign territories and protected biospheres.
Right now, tens of millions of acres of Indigenous Amazonian territories and isolated rainforest are slated to be auctioned off for new oil drilling in the western Amazon, threatening the most biodiverse rainforest in the world and the survival of the Indigenous peoples who live in it, and paving the way for catastrophic global climate change.
Resistance is happening, however, as in a victory for Indigenous peoples in the Peruvian Amazon, oil company GeoPark announced it’s withdrawing from its contract to explore & drill for oil in Block 64, which directly overlaps with the 5 million acres of Achuar and Wampis ancestral territory.
The Achuar and Wampis Peoples have long opposed any oil drilling on their territory, making sure Peruvian lawmakers, international investors, the US government and GeoPark CEO James Park himself heard their message.
“U.S. investors BlackRock, JPMorgan, HSBC, Goldman Sachs, and Citigroup have poured tens of millions of dollars into GeoPark and its plans to expand oil drilling in the Amazon in places like Block 64. GeoPark’s withdrawal from Block 64 is yet another clear message to investors that it is past time to divest from oil companies and re-invest in a truly sustainable future for the Amazon and the world,” said Moira Birss, Climate and Finance Director at Amazon Watch.
Can this incredible ecosystem in other threatened areas be protected, allowing Indigenous societies and wildlife to thrive?
*Paul Paz y Miño has been at Amazon Watch since 2007. He has been a professional human rights, corporate accountability and environmental justice advocate since 1993. He has worked with various human rights NGOs including Amnesty International USA and Human Rights Watch/Americas. Paul has lived in Chiapas, Mexico and Quito, Ecuador, promoting human rights and community development and working directly with Indigenous communities.
On Misrepresentation of Steven Donziger’s case against Chevron in Ecuador: https://medium.com/@paulpaz/response-to-nov-6-2021-dealbook-article-about-steven-donziger-by-joe-nocera-6a3bbb076b72
Donny Rico: https://youtu.be/CjxGALDuuc0
Podcast Website: http://ecojusticeradio.org/
Podcast Blog: https://www.wilderutopia.com/category/ecojustice-radio/
Support the Podcast: https://www.patreon.com/ecojusticeradio
Hosted by Jessica Aldridge
Engineer: Blake Quake Beats
Executive Producer: Jack Eidt
Show Created by Mark and JP Morris
Original Music: Javier Kadry
Photo credit: Paul Paz y Mino
Originally Published 19 November 2020, Updated 16 March 2023