Wednesday, April 6 at 7:30 pm
Crude: The Real Price of Oil
by Joe Berlinger
This is a film about the famous class-action lawsuit involving Big Oil and the indigenous people of Ecuador – some 30,000 indigenous people of Ecuador vs. Chevron. The Texaco/Chevron oil corporation was drilling for oil in the pristine jungles of the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador from the 1960s to the 1990s. Big Oil always wants to make a fast buck — so it actually prefers drilling for oil in rainforests in the most economic way: the water contained in the crude oil is simply spilled into the rivers and streams, without any preliminary treatment. The gas is burned, since this is considered to be “cheaper” than conducting it to an end user. The result is that the water, the soil, and the air are contaminated, poisoning the people living in the area, and producing cancers on a massive scale. By the time Texaco/Chevron was kicked out of Ecuador in the 1990s, the corporation had left behind in the Ecudorean forests hundreds of toxic waste pits, many of which were designed to drain polluted water into nearby rivers and streams. Many of those poisonous waste pits have remained open for years, despite the fact that poor people in the Amazon forest region live near these rivers and streams and depend on them to live. In this eye-opening film you can see scientists and lawyers for Big Oil look the camera straight in the eye and lie about the toxic effects of petroleum drilling and dumping in the environment. At the same time you can see indigenous Amazonian tribes struggling to hold on to what little they have left in the “dead zones” of the Amazon rainforest where Chevron/Texaco once ruled supreme and see the strength of these people as they seek to stay alive in their traditional homes without getting poisoned on a daily basis by oil and petroleum waste.
This film is a David and Goliath story told through interviews with both the corporate lawyers and the indigenous people. It shows the indigenous hero, Pablo Fajardo, and his lawyers on one side, and the coporate lawyers and scientists for Chevron on the other. The indigenous people tell their own story in their own words from their own homes in the Amazon tropical rainforest. These people are indeed poor but before Texaco/Chevron contaminated their world, they had everything they needed to live a simple life abundant with gifts from nature. Pablo Fajardo is a humble man from a fiscally poor but morally wealthy family taking on one of the most complicated cases in history and coming out ahead.
This film could easily have been made in Colombia (Uwa), or in Nigeria (Ogoni), and in many other places where Big Oil has done its devastation. Ecuador was fortunate to elect a President who cannot be bought off so that this lawsuit involving Texaco/Chevron was not a slam dunk in its favor.
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