March 17, 2010

Cofan leader visits Chevron CEO

Indigenous leader confronts Chevron

By Rick KearnsEmergildo Criollo traveled to California recently from his indigenous village in Ecuador to the home of Chevron’s new CEO John Watson and then to a meeting with state lawmakers, demanding that the oil giant Chevron “… take responsibility for their actions and clean up our rivers and forests--our homes.”

Criollo, a leader of the Cofan people from the Oriente region of Ecuador, grew up in one of the areas where Chevron (then Texaco) was drilling and has been the subject of a massive lawsuit. He came to Chevron’s base of operations to say that the contamination killed two of his sons, along with many other Ecuadorians, and caused his wife to contract uterine cancer.
And:As part of his effort to publicize the issue, Criollo and a group of U.S.-based activists went first to the home of Watson March 2, and then to company headquarters later in the afternoon and on to Sacramento the following day. Criollo’s hosts included Amazon Watch, Rainforest Action Network and

Watson did not answer when the group pressed the buzzer to his gated home, according to Han Shan, coordinator of Amazon Watch’s Cleanup Ecuador campaign. Shan noted that Criollo did read his message into Watson’s speaker at the gate, and then left a copy of a petition signed by 325,000 people from around the world, asking Chevron to clean up the affected area.
Comment:  It would've been even better if Criollo had poured a few gallons of oil onto Watson's property. But I guess he would've got in trouble for that.

Even so, this was a good publicity stunt with a lot of symbolic value. Criollo met with California legislators and got at least one article out of it.

For more on the subject, see Pay Ecuador Not to Drill in Amazon? and Crude Reviewed.

Below:  "Emergildo Criollo, (center) a leader of the Cofan people from the Oriente region of Ecuador, walked up Happy Valley Road in Lafayette, Calif. on his way to deliver a petition signed by 325,000 people to Chevron CEO John Watson."

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