Ecuador president Rafael Correa is calling for an international boycott of Chevron Oil products in reaction of what he calls the company’s evasion of responsibility for oil contamination in the Amazon basin.
In recent months, Chevron has targeted the Ecuadorian government with a barrage of international advertising questioning the authority and competence of the country’s legal system, in an attempt to avoid paying a $19 billion judgement issued by an Ecuadorian court in 2010. The money would go to clean up oil pollution and to compensate residents reportedly injured or sickened by the contamination.
Ecuador’s campaign titled, “The dirty hand of Chevron,” was rolled out by Correa on September 17, during a visit to a contaminated pit near the Aguarico 4 oil well, operated decades ago by Texaco. The company, which merged with Chevron in 2001, left behind almost one thousand of these pits over three decades of oil exploitation in the Amazon rainforest (1964-1992), covering an area of more than a million acres, where an estimated 18 billion gallons of water, contaminated with oil, has continued to seep from unprotected pits or to overspill during heavy rains. According to the government, the seepage has contaminated the streams and rivers used by the local population for drinking water, destroyed wildlife and negatively affected agriculture.
Chevron claims that it complied with all environmental regulations of the period in which it operated and says that much of the contamination is the result of work by government owned PetroEcuador.
40,000 homes powered by wind energy
Loja Province in southern Ecuador is leading the country in producing electricty by wind power and, according to federal officials, should be able to power more than 40,000 homes by the end of the year.
The Villonaco wind field, set on a mountain ridge at 8,800 ft. elevation, consists of 11 wind turbines. The field was built at a cost of $45 million with equipment purchased from German companies.
President Rafael Corra visited Villonaco in mid-September and said it was just the beginning a national program to diversify the country’s electric generation program. “We’re breaking paradigms and setting new paths that can benefit the neediest communities,” Correa said at the site.
Correa said that other wind generation projects are planned for the central Andes, south of Quito. “Villonaco will be the model that the others will be based on.
Campaign promotes digitial television
The government wants to speed up the country’s transition from analog to digitial television reception. The national office of telecommuncations says that although 18 of the country’s 26 licensed tv channels are sending digital signals, most viewers are sticking with analog.
The office is sending representatives around the country promoting the advantages of digital. “We need to make our case that digital is much superior to analog and that it is the way of the future,” a spokeman said. “In 2018, the analog signal will be discontinued and television viewers will be forced to switch.”
According to the telecommunications office, decoders that accept the digital signal are inexpensive and widely available and all new telelvisions sold in the Ecuador are digital. Decoders cost $40 to $50 each. There are about six million televisions in the country, the office says.
Photo caption: President Correa holds up an oily hand an oil pit in the Amazon