A new wave of oil drilling is moving deeper into the Amazon. Once again, Indigenous communities led by women have courageously stood up to the renewed attack on their lands, rights, and the environment. The international community must stand with them. Join us this summer on a delegation to the Ecuadorian highlands and Amazon basin where we will take a deep-dive into the current grassroots resistance to the exploitative, unsustainable, and toxic practices of extractive industries.

Here’s the scoop:

Ecuador’s state oil company brought in the new year with new oil wells. It began drilling the first of 97 of the planned wells inside a new field of the Yasuní national park, one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. This is the second phase of the controversial Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) project (started in 2016) that creeps further into the national park.

Indigenous women organized in opposition to the drilling and recently secured a meeting with the country’s president, Lenin Moreno. They presented Moreno with a list of demands enshrined in the “Mandate of Amazonian Women” that calls on the government to end oil and mining projects on their ancestral lands as well as conduct official investigations into attacks against Indigenous leaders.

This delegation will meet with Indigenous women leaders from Sarayaku at the forefront of this effort. We will also meet with leading environmental NGOs including Acción Ecológica, currently under significant pressure from the Ecuadorian government to curb its activities.

Just a few weeks ago on March 13, Ecuador launched a new bidding round for foreign companies to develop oil and gas reserves in Ecuador’s eastern Amazon region as well as in the gulf of Guayaquil. In light of this development, our delegation will grapple with the legacy of multinational oil companies in the country, with special attention on Chevron — a Global Exchange Top 10 Corporate Criminal.

We will visit oil pits where Texaco, acquired by Chevron in 2001, drilled using obsolete technology and substandard environmental controls from 1964 to 1990. We will see the devastation that the subsequent dumping of 18.5 billion gallons of highly toxic waste sludge into streams and rivers caused – and causes – local people dependant on the water for drinking, bathing, and fishing. We will also be introduced to some of the most successful local and international efforts to bring environmental and social justice to the Andes and the Amazon.

Please consider how you might take action for the earth and Indigenous people, whether by joining a delegation, sending a message to President Moreno, or demanding multinationals cease funding the destruction of the Amazon and violation of indigenous rights.


As the international and Mexican delegates met on the beach in Acapulco this morning under a towering Mexican flag, representatives from local and state organizations and unions welcomed our participation on the Via Campesina caravan, and wished us well. They told us that by spending the next 2 days in the state of Guerrero we would be lending support and strength to the struggles that these communities faced.

The international contingent makes up 20 activists and independent media journalists from the USA, Holland, England, Ecuador and Canada (me!). Throughout the day we have picked up people joining the caravan, and expect to have a full bus by tomorrow.

Our spokesperson, Mickey McCoy from Kentucky, let everyone know that what we would see and learn during the next few days would inform our actions in Cancun and into the future. He also connected his work to stop Mountain Top Removal in the Appalachian Mountains to the struggle to stop the La Parota dam in Guerrero.

We then boarded the bus and after a short drive joined the community of Puerto Marquez, just outside of Acapulco, in the newly created hotel zone called Acapulco Diamante. On November 10, 150 families were descended upon by 2 levels of police and forcibly removed from their homes, their homes burned and they are still living in crisis and fear for their lives. We met them on the road, above the now fenced off and police ‘protected’ area where their houses stood. Men, women and children told of their experience of being woken, beaten and thrown out of their houses in the middle of the night. One small girl said that her only request was to the Governor: that he allow her family to have a house for Christmas.

We were left with an uncomfortable feeling of the true costs of unchecked ‘development’ driven by tourist dollars. While ocean and sand may cover the postcards and glossy airline ads, we heard today from 150 families whose lives are in chaos as a result of our aggressive sun seeking.”This land is not for sale,” they told us.

Then on to Agua Caliente, the community where the Council of Communal Lands and Communities Opposed to La Parota Dam (CECOP) formed and is fighting against the construction of the dam. It was explained to us that while the government has claimed that the construction of the dam is postponed until 2018, bits of construction continue and the community remains vigilant. They by no means feel that the fight is over. We were taken down to the rushing Papagayo river and a CECOP representative mused about how, with the construction of the dam, the river would cease to flow.

We have heard word of the other caravans’ travels today and as we learn more and more about our convergence in Mexico City and then on to Cancun, I’m in awe of this project that Via Campesina has organized and feel the responsibility that community members have bestowed on us to ensure that their voices are heard in Cancun. As one of my traveling mates remarked today, “makes me proud to be people.”

Throughout the day we have been honored to be joined and guided by Rodolfo Chaves Galindo, a CECOP founders and a tireless fighter to stop the La Parota dam. He has reiterated again and again “this land is not for sale”.

COP16 starts on Nov 29 and runs until Dec 10 in Cancun, Mexico. COP16/CMP6 is the 16th edition of Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP). After the failure of COP15 in Copenhagen, sights are set both high and low for this round.

Climate justice campaigners, environmentalists and social justice advocates from around the world will be arriving in Mexico over the next week, many joining the three caravans set to depart Acapulco, El Salto (Guadalajara) and San Luis Potosí, arrive in Mexico City and then travel on to Cancun, arriving December 3rd. The international peasant movement, La Via Campesina, has arranged the caravans, which will stop at a variety of communities in struggle and resistance, with the objectives of:

– unmasking the double moral standard on the environment with which the government of Mexico maneuvers itself amidst the world-wide climatic crisis. At the same time exposing its true rapacious attitude towards the environment and its subservient attitude with the United States government.

– opening up a practical path of convergence between diverse social organizations of the United States, Canada and Mexico, which nowadays share, without knowing it and without much contact, an effort to struggle against neoliberalism.

– connecting numerous environmental struggles of Mexico with the global agenda of the movement against the world-wide climatic crisis.

– contributing, nationally and locally, to the global civil society’s enormous effort of denouncing the destructive attitude present in many regions of the world, and which is being espoused by the decisions and greed of the governments of the richest nations of the world and transnational corporations.

– nurturing as much as possible the campesino, indigenous and peoples mobilizations against the indolence with which the main countries and capitalists of the world will make themselves present at the COP-16 in Cancun.

– contributing in the preparation of new networks of international coordination.

The issues to be highlighted on the caravan from Acapulco will be: community struggles against dump sites, water contamination, hydroelectric generation and control of water, resistance and struggles in the mines and will travel through Guerrero, Morelos, and DF.

The issues to be highlighted on the caravan from Guadalajara will be: community struggles against damns and control of water, Indigenous struggles against deforestation, resistance against expropriation of communal agricultural lands for development, resistance against displacement by superhighway development and will travel through Jalisco, Michoacán, México and DF.

The issues to be highlighted on the caravan from San Luis Potosí will be: contamination by export agriculture contamination of local communities and rivers by fertilizers and other chemicals, community resistance to development and industrial contamination, community resistance and struggles against toxic waste sites and will travel through San Luis Potosí, Guanajuato, Hidalgo and DF.


The caravans are scheduled to arrive in Mexico City and thousands will participate in the protest for ‘Life, Social and Environmental Justice’.

Global Exchange will be participating in the caravans from Acapulco and Guadalajara all the way to Cancun and will be reporting daily from the road. More on what is being planned for Cancun tomorrow!