Submitted by Luis Padilla on Wed, 09/25/2013 – 16:26
Quito, 25 sep (Andes).- A moving testimony presented by Jose Shingre, a farmer from the Ecuadorian Amazon region, silenced the audience made up of diplomats and members of the media as he described how the pollution left by oil giant Chevron-Texaco in his homeland is causing deaths and illnesses to thousands of his fellow farmers in the area.
Shingre addressed a forum attended by several representatives of the countries members of the Human Rights Council which held a side event titled “Human Rights, Environment and Transnational Corporations: The Chevron Case in Ecuador”, during the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York.
As his voice trembled, Shingre said during his testimony that “many hundreds and now thousands of fellow farmers, and fellow indigenous are dying, but what is hurting us the most in our souls, is that even the governments did not support us and did not respond to our clamor; we don’t want money, what we want is two things, dear friends: We want water, because we have no way of getting water in the area, because the water is contaminated, and no matter how much the local authorities want to give us water, they can’t do it. Everything is contaminated (…) and we want justice, that’s all, justice, because at this time we can’t even count on our crops”. Shingre said that the contamination that has permeated into the soil is affecting their work in the farm. “What good is it if our hands become hardened from so much work?”
Shingre, one of the representatives of the people who were affected by the negligent environmental remediation by Chevron-Texaco in the Ecuadorian Amazon region, received his visa to enter the United States only on Monday. The American Embassy in Ecuador had originally denied his visa request, which he needed in order to present his testimony at the UN event.
Also a former Texaco employer, Shingre described the relationship between the local authorities and Texaco at the time. “They ruled the land (Texaco). The authorities did not rule, not even the Armed Forces, because they made the decisions and would often order the military to come an keep us from resisting when they knocked down our coffee plants, our sugar cane and our fruit crops, and even ourselves, we were even harassed by the authorities themselves.”
Although Texaco, now Chevron, claims to have remediated some parts of the area, Shingre says that they are still suffering the effects of the contamination. “Our family members are constantly getting sick, and while these immoral practices by Chevron, formerly Texaco, continue, nothing will be good for us (…). It is clear in our minds, that if they don’t fix it, if they don’t do an adequate environmental remediation, no other remedy will be good enough.”
“We can see that they (Chevron’s executives) are only protecting their dollars, their revenues, their business, but they don’t care for human life, when life is more important, not the other things”, he added.