Tag Archives: amazon

Are Brazil’s dams to blame for record floods in Bolivia?

By Emily Achtenberg, March 31, 2014. Source: NACLA

San Antonio Dam. Photo: La Razón

San Antonio Dam. Photo: La Razón

In recent months, Bolivia’s Amazonian region has experienced the most disastrous flooding of the past 100 years. In the Beni department, 7 of 8 provinces and 16 of 19 municipalities are under water, with 75,000 people (more than one-quarter of the population) affected. Economic losses from the death of 250,000 livestock heads and destruction of seasonal crop lands, estimated at $180 million, are mounting daily.

While seasonal flooding is common in Beni, experts agree that climate change has added a threatening new dimension to the cyclical pattern, bringing record rainfall to most of Bolivia this year. Deforestation, exploitation of cultivable land, and loss of infrastructure through the breakup of traditional communities are other factors contributing to soil erosion and increased vulnerability to flooding.

In the past weeks, attention has focused on the role played by two recently-inaugurated Brazilian mega-dams—the Jirau and the San Antonio—in Bolivia’s floods. Located on the Madeira River, the largest tributary of the Amazon which receives its waters from rivers in Bolivia and Peru, the dams are just 50 and 110 miles, respectively, from Brazil’s Bolivian border. Continue reading

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Repsol sells oil stake in ‘isolated’ Indigenous People’s territory in Peruvian Amazon

By David Hill, March 13, 2014. Source: Upside Down World

Photo: Rainforest Foundation Norway

Photo: Rainforest Foundation Norway

Oil and gas company Repsol is selling its stake in controversial oil operations in a remote part of the Peruvian Amazon inhabited by indigenous people in ‘voluntary isolation’ (IPVI), just across the border from the ITT oil fields in Ecuador.

Repsol’s move follows an investigation by the Council on Ethics within Norway’s Finance Ministry which, according to Norwegian sources, recommended the Ministry divest from the company because of its operations in this region.

The decision by Repsol to sell its stake was revealed in a report by Peru’s state oil and gas licensing agency, Perupetro, which stated that a Repsol Peru subsidiary is selling 50% of Lot 39, as the oil concession is called, to Perenco.

Repsol spokesperson Gonzalo Velasco Perez confirms the sale, saying, ‘In November Repsol started the process of ceding the 50% of the rights in Lot 39 in Peru to Perenco. The process hasn’t finished yet and will take a few more months.’

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Chevron’s U.S. win in Ecuador case looms over cases elsewhere

By Mica Rosenberg, March 7, 2014. Source: Reuters

A waste pit filled with crude oil left by Texaco drilling operations years earlier lies in a jungle clearing near the Amazonian town of Sacha, Ecuador, October 21, 2003, on the day of the start of a landmark trial where Ecuadoran Indians are seeking to force ChevronTexaco to clean up the environmental contamination left behind from Texaco's operations.  Photo: REUTERS/LOU DEMATTEIS

A waste pit filled with crude oil left by Texaco drilling operations years earlier lies in a jungle clearing near the Amazonian town of Sacha, Ecuador, October 21, 2003, on the day of the start of a landmark trial where Ecuadoran Indians are seeking to force ChevronTexaco to clean up the environmental contamination left behind from Texaco’s operations. Photo: REUTERS/LOU DEMATTEIS

Ecuadorean villagers who are trying to get billions of dollars from Chevron Corp for pollution in the Amazon jungle are ready to refocus their fight on pending suits in other countries after a setback in the United States.

A scathing judgment issued by a U.S. judge this week against their lawyer will cast a long shadow over cases filed in Canada, Brazil and Argentina, where the plaintiffs are seeking Chevron assets as payment because the oil giant no longer has a presence in Ecuador.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan handed down a 500-page decision that found American lawyer Stephen Donziger used “corrupt means” to help villagers from the Lago Agrio region win the historic $18 billion judgment against Chevron in Ecuador in 2011. The damage award was later revised down to $9.5 billion. While Kaplan’s decision bars Donziger and the villagers from enforcing the Ecuadorean ruling in the United States, it is not binding in pending cases elsewhere.

Of the three cases, the Canadian one seems to have progressed the farthest, with an appeals court there ruling in December that the province of Ontario was a proper jurisdiction for the plaintiffs to press the company to pay up. Chevron has asked for an appeal of that ruling to be heard by Canada’s Supreme Court. Continue reading

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Filed under Biodiversity, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Forests, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean, Oil, Pollution

The forest mafia: how scammers steal millions through carbon markets

Note: As many of us have been warning for almost a decade (and some for much longer). This article also mentions the opposition to California’s forest carbon offset program by Indigenous villages in Chiapas, Mexico.  GJEP helped uncover this opposition through a documentary expedition we undertook to the region in 2011, and the production of articles, photo essays and a video about these communities called A Darker Shade of Green: REDD Alert and the Future of Forests.

–The GJEP Team

By Ryan Jacobs, Oct 11, 2013.  Source: The Atlantic


A forest village of the indigenous Matses tribe in the Amazon. (Rebecca Spooner/Survival International)

From the article: “There is something especially insidious about these fake forest carbon credits. Investors and corporations who buy voluntary credits believe they are buying into something grander than, say, the efficiency improvements of a single factory in China. They believe they’re funding not only the preservation of trees, but also the wellbeing of local forest communities. Unwittingly, they might be financing the destruction of both.”

When the balding Australian first stepped off the riverboat and into the isolated pocket of northeastern Peru’s Amazon jungle in 2010, he had what seemed like a noble, if quixotic, business plan.

An ambitious real estate developer, David Nilsson hoped to ink joint venture agreements with the regional government of Loreto province and the leaders of the indigenous Matses community to preserve vast thickets of the tribe’s remote rainforest. Under a global carbon-trading program, he wished to sell shares of the forest’s carbon credits to businesses that hope to mitigate, or offset, their air pollution.

The product is invisible, poorly understood, and regulation is extremely limited.

Located a six-day ride from the frontier city of Iquitos, the jungle’s vegetation, soils, and looming trees store an immense amount of carbon dioxide—roughly one ton, the equivalent of one UN-backed carbon credit, per tree.

In an ideal scenario, this is how it’s supposed to work: A community in a developing country works with an NGO or developer to design a plan to protect a large swathe of forest and thus prevent the release of the harmful chemical compound into the atmosphere, in accordance with the United Nations’ program called REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation). Then, it can get the emissions reductions certified by a third-party auditor and sell the resulting carbon credits to corporations in developed countries interested in reducing their own carbon footprints. (Deforestation accounts for roughly 17 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions.)

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Filed under Biodiversity, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, REDD, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

The debate on Yasuni continues

Note: Thanks, Patrick for offering another perspective on the Yasuni oil drilling debacle (though we still don’t believe that money can solve the problems caused by capitalism…)
–The GJEP Team

From Patrick Bond  7 October 2013:

Dear GJEP, I always am in unity with your arguments, but on this intro note - http://climate-connections.org/2013/10/05/ecuador-congress-approves-yasuni-basin-oil-drilling-in-amazon/ - my disagreements with your wording/analysis are as follows (while ultimately agreeing with you that the site is so valuable that it should not be wrecked by the Correa government, no matter whether payment is made):

“A perfect example of why holding critical biodiversity reserves hostage

This ‘hostage’ metaphor is unfair, even a caricature. Plan A was agreed on by virtually everyone after Accion Ecologica and Connai proposed it and Alberto Acosta took it to Correa in 2007: the North should pay $3.6 bn to leave the Yasuni oil in the soil. One rationale: the North owes what Accion Ecologica has long called an “ecological debt”, for which this project might be considered a mere downpayment,

“and demanding payment for their protection”

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Ecuador Congress Approves Yasuni Basin Oil Drilling in Amazon

Note: A perfect example of why holding critical biodiversity reserves hostage and demanding payment for their protection (AKA payment for environmental services) is a really stupid and dangerous idea.  How about instead turning these areas over to the forest dependent and Indigenous Peoples who have kept them intact all this time–of right, no money in that.  Gotta love “Green” Capitalism!

–The GJEP Team

By REUTERS, October 3, 2013  Source: New York Times

QUITO — Ecuador’s parliament on Thursday authorized drilling of the nation’s largest oil fields in part of the Amazon rainforest after the failure of President Rafael Correa’s plan to have rich nations pay to avoid its exploitation.

The socialist leader launched the initiative in 2007 to protect the Yasuni jungle area, which boasts some of the planet’s most diverse wildlife, but scrapped it after attracting only a small fraction of the $3.6 billion sought.

The government-dominated National Assembly authorized drilling in blocks 43 and 31, but attached conditions to minimize the impact on both the environment and local tribes.

Though Correa says the estimated $22 billion earnings potential will be used to combat poverty in the South American nation, there have been protests from indigenous groups and green campaigners.

About 680,000 people have signed a petition calling for a referendum.

“We want them to respect our territory,” Alicia Cauilla, a representative of the Waorani people who live around the Yasuni area, said in an appeal to the assembly.

“Let us live how we want.”

Correa has played down the potential impact of oil drilling in the area, saying it would affect only 0.01 percent of the entire Yasuni basin.

A U.S.-trained economist, Correa has won broad popular support among Ecuador’s low-income majority with heavy spending on welfare, health, education and infrastructure projects.

He says it is essential for the country to expand its oil reserves in order to direct more state spending toward the poor.

Oil output in OPEC’s smallest member has stagnated since 2010 when the government asked oil investors to sign less-profitable service contracts or leave the country. Since then, oil companies have not invested in exploration.

State oil company Petroamazonas will be in charge of extraction in blocks 43 and 31, which are estimated to hold 800 million barrels of crude and projected to yield 225,000 barrels per day eventually. Ecuador currently produces 540,000 bpd.

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Ecuador: Clashes at Quito protest over oil drilling in Yasuni reserve

August 30, 2013. Source: World War 4 Report

Indigenous and environmentalist protesters clashed with police in Ecuador Aug. 27, as a mobilization dubbed a zapateo (foot-stamping) against plans to open the Yasuni Amazon reserve to oil drilling was held in both Quito and Cuenca. Carlos Pérez, leader of the ECUARUNARI indigenous alliance, said police fired rubber bullets on protesters in Quito, leaving 12 hurt—claims denied by the Interior Ministry. At the capital’s Plaza de la Independencia, protesters were confronted by an organized counter-demonstration made up of supporters of the ruling Alianza PAIS. After the march, protesters held a public assembly in the city’s Plaza Bolívar, where they agreed to meet every Thursday outside the Environment Ministry in an ongiong campaign until their demands are met. The movement is demanding aconsulta popular—public discussion and referendum—on the fate of Yasuni. Ecuador’s National Assembly is currently considering President Rafael Correa’s proposal to open oil blocs within the reserve. (El Universo, Guayaquil, Aug. 29; AFP, Aug. 28)

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Peruvian ministers resign over Amazon gas project

August 6, 2013. Source: Survival International

Photo: Survival International

Photo: Survival International

At least three ministers have resigned in Peru, amidst increasing pressure to approve a controversial gas project in the Amazon.

The plan to expand the existing Camisea gas project, which is within the Nahua-Nanti Reserve for uncontacted tribes, has been widely condemned, and in March the UN called for its ‘immediate suspension’.

Peru’s Ministry of Culture, charged with protecting indigenous peoples’ rights, last week issued a report outlining the dangers the project would pose to uncontacted and isolated Indians’ lives. But the report disappeared just hours after it was published online, and both the Minister and Vice-minister of Culture have now stepped down.

Amongst concerns outlined in the Ministry’s report are the risk of disease being spread amongst the isolated Indians, who lack immunity to common illnesses which may be brought in by oil company workers and outsiders.
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Brazil calls in army to defuse conflicts over Indian lands

By Anthony Boadle and Caroline Stauffer, June 4 2013. Source: Reuters

Munduruku Indians pass through a metal detector as they arrive for a meeting with the Minister of the General Secretariat of the Presidency, Gilberto Carvalho, at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, June 4, 2013. Photo: Reuters/Ueslei Marcelino

Munduruku Indians pass through a metal detector as they arrive for a meeting with the Minister of the General Secretariat of the Presidency, Gilberto Carvalho, at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, June 4, 2013. Photo: Reuters/Ueslei Marcelino

BRASILIA/SAO PAULO - President Dilma Rousseff’s government said on Tuesday it would send 110 federal troops to the Brazilian farm state of Mato Grosso do Sul to try to prevent more violence between Indians claiming their ancestral territory and ranchers.

The government has been struggling to defuse tensions with indigenous tribes over farmland in several states as well as over hydroelectric dams in the Amazon.

Tensions escalated in a disputed property in Mato Grosso do Sul that was invaded last week for a second time by Terena Indians angered by the fatal shooting of one of their tribe’s members. Local media said the man’s cousin was shot and injured on a nearby ranch on Tuesday.

“We must avoid radicalizing a situation that goes back a long way in Brazilian history,” Justice Minister Jose Cardozo told reporters after meeting lawmakers from Mato Grosso do Sul in Brasilia. Continue reading

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Indigenous Peoples launch new occupation on Belo Monte dam site

May 3, 2013. Source: Intercontinental Cry

Photo: Amazon Watch

Photo: Amazon Watch

Altamira, Brazil – Some 200 indigenous people affected by the construction of large hydroelectric dams in the Amazon launched an occupation today on one of the main construction sites of the Belo Monte dam complex on the Xingu River in the Brazilian Amazon. The group demands that the Brazilian government adopt effective legislation on prior consultations with indigenous peoples regarding projects that affect their lands and livelihoods. As this has not happened, they are demanding the immediate suspension of construction, technical studies and police operations related to dams along the Xingu, Tapajos and Teles Pires rivers. Shock troops of the military police were awaiting indigenous protestors when they arrived at the Belo Monte dam site, but they were unable to impede the occupation.

The indigenous protestors include members of the Juruna, Kayapó, Xipaya, Kuruaya, Asurini, Parakanã, Arara tribes from the Xingu River, as well as warriors of the Munduruku, a large tribe from the neighboring Tapajós river basin. The indigenous peoples are joined by fishermen and local riverine communities from the Xingu region. Initial reports indicate that approximately 6,000 workers at one of the main Belo Monte construction sites, Pimental, have ceased operations as a result of the protest. The occupation, according to the indigenous communities, will continue indefinitely or until the federal government meets their demands. Continue reading

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