The oil industry giant Chevron began operating in Ecuador's Amazon rain forest in 1964. Over the course of thirty years, this majestic environmental wonder became the victim of unregulated corporate abuse and greed. By the time the corporation vacated the area in 1992, their toxic footprint had brought about 1700 times more damage to the environment than the infamous Exxon Valdez oil spill in the United States. Empire Files host Abby Martin visits the scene of the crime in Chevron vs. the Amazon, and uncovers the extent to which the criminal acts of industry have spoiled the riches of a tropical paradise.
The Amazon plays host to hundreds of thousands of unique species of plant life, insects, animals, as well as an equally diverse human population. All of this came under threat when Chevron established operations in the region over 50 years ago.
At the film's outset, we are given a series of sobering statistics. During their years of operation, the corporation dumped 17 billion gallons of crude oil and 19 billions gallons of contaminated waste water into the region. Prior to vacating, they attempted to hide their environmental atrocities by covering these spills with dirt or setting them ablaze. The totality of their offenses simply could not be denied, however, as the land and its people have suffered from its devastating impact over the ensuing decades.
Ecological experts give us a glimpse of the damage. The plant life that manages to thrive is internally saturated with crude oil, and the rivers are marbled with poisonous contaminants. Meanwhile, the Ecuadorian citizens have suffered their own plights in the wake of Chevron's invasion. The harmony they share and cherish with their homeland has been sabotaged, and they're experiencing increased incidents of disease and early death.
As is the specialty of the Empire Files series, the filmmakers place this in the context of an industrialized machine that runs without regulation or oversight. Without a doubt, Chevron was given free reign in the region for many years, and the implication is that they greased the pockets of decision makers in order to procure the freedom to operate as they wished. A series of lawsuits are currently working their way through the courts system, and the film places harsh criticism on many of the tactics Chevron is employing to navigate their way out of them.
Chevron vs. the Amazon is an impassioned plea for greater accountability and oversight when it comes to protecting the health and survival of our planet.