South O’ the Highway

Roger Waters Takes on Chevron in Fight for Amazon Rainforest

He paused his tour to use his voice for Ecuador's indigenous people.

Roger Waters is fighting to save the rainforest. On November 20, the Hamptonite visited Quito, Ecuador for a press conference shining light on the 25-year legal battle between the indigenous people in the Ecuadorian Amazon and United States oil company Chevron.

During the press conference, Waters urged the world to decide: Are laws set to serve the people or to “serve the insatiable appetite of oligarchs and the corporate tyranny under which we all have to survive?” TeleSur reports that Waters paused his own Us + Them tour to visit the indigenous land that has been decimated by oil contamination to the point that the town Lago Agrio, a place where cancer rates are three times as high as uncontaminated areas, is now referred to as the “Amazon’s Chernobyl.”

Waters told TeleSur in an exclusive interview (the video above includes strong language) that this issue is about an American company that came to a foreign country “to focus on the bottom line for its shareholders with no concern for the people or the politics or the needs of the development of the people who actually live there or have lived there for the last few thousand years.” TeleSur reports that Chevron was ordered to pay $9 billion in damages, but, so far, Chevron has refused to make any payments under claims of “false allegations.”

Arriving in Lago Agrio on November 19 was nearly impossible for Waters, as TeleSur reports that he was blocked from traveling to the area. Through an interpreter Waters asked the authorities, “These flights go out all the time. Why is there an issue today?” After being informed of alleged operational issues, Waters appealed to the airport authority that he was no tourist, “These are your Ecuadorean brothers and sisters. We’re trying to help them.” He was eventually successful and on November 20 Tweeted, “So happy to be in beautiful Ecuador, spent yesterday visiting the wonderfully hospitable indigenous people. I am deeply moved by their predicament in the face of Chevron corporations’ deadly pollution of their rainforest home.”

Mongabay reports that the case of the Lago Agrio plaintiffs against Chevron is currently waiting to be tried in the supreme court of Canada. Waters is hopeful that the Canadian court will decide in the community’s favor, calling back to a letter the shareholders sent Chevron’s CEO Michael Wirth, urging him to agree on a settlement with the plaintiffs. The letter was signed by 36 institutional investors who collectively represent $109 billion in assets.

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