The environmental significance of the Ecuadorian Amazon cannot be overstated. Its biodiversity is such that more species exist in the Amazon basin than anywhere else on Earth. It’s home to tens of thousands of species of insects, plants, and trees. It also has double the amount of distinct species of birds that can be found in the entire North America. The constantly changing array of beautiful flying and crawling creatures can be mesmerizing to the visitor.
The region is also home to thousands of indigenous people who have lived in harmony with the environment for thousands of years. However, Texaco showed up in 1964 and radically altered that peace.
The Texaco Corporation, which merged with Chevron, was invited into the area by a military dictatorship that was completely in favor of US businesses. Until it left in 1992, the company managed to dump a shocking 17 million gallons of crude oil into open pits in the rainforest. To make matters worse, approximately 19 billion gallons of contaminated water were also dumped into the same habitat.
This was no accident. It was done intentionally because the corporation decided to use cheap techniques that would maximize its profits. These same techniques were so destructive that they were banned in the United States. There was a time when Chevron was deliberately pumping 4 million gallons of toxic waste into the soil every day. As a result, over 5 million acres of once pristine jungle were polluted.
Texaco’s shareholders saved an average of one million dollars per well, and hundreds of these wells were built. All in all, the company built a total of 344 oil pits and 1200 pools that were filled with oil waste. Many of these pools were built close to waterways so that the excess mess could be drained into swamps, ponds, and rivers.
When Texaco decided to pull out of Ecuador, the company tried to cover up its environmental crimes, but even that was done halfheartedly. Many of the pits were simply covered with dirt. The pools that were too hard to cover up were set on fire in an attempt to hide the evidence of decades of pollution.
When the first lawsuits started to appear against the company, Texaco came to an agreement in which they only tried to clean up 264 of the 1200 pools of toxic waste they had left behind. These cleanup methods were a complete sham.
As the oil chocked the life out of the rainforest, it completely altered the lives of the people who live in the area. Rates of certain types of cancer were found to be ten times higher near the Amazon basin and countless lives have been lost due to diseases caused by the contamination.
This film brings to light a story that has been carefully hidden. It’s a story that constitutes one of the biggest environmental disasters in history with huge implications regarding corporate impunity for crimes against humanity and nature.