Texaco's signature, written in oil, at Lago Agrio in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Photo: Julien Gomba via Flickr.
Texas Petroleum Museum rejects 'gifts from Ecuador'
29th May 2014
The Permian Basin Petroleum Museum in Texas has ejected two indigenous men from Ecuador and rejected their 'gift' of posters showing rainforest oil pollution. Chevron was holding its annual general meeting at the museum.
Between 1964 and 1990, Texaco, which merged with Chevron in 2001, used illegal disposal methods to systematically dump roughly 18 billion gallons of toxic waste into unlined pits and local waterways in Ecuador's rainforest ...
Two indigenous representatives from the Ecuadorian Amazon travelled to the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum in Midland, Texas to present a gift - poster-sized photographs of rainforest contaminated by oil spills and debris.
Humberto Piaguaje and Robinson Yumbo, from the Secoya and Cofan nations, offered their donation to the museum's executive director, Kathy Shannon.
At first she politely admitted the visitors into the museum's offices. But when she noticed that the photos contained images of oil contaminated sites, including one of a child in a swing next to a rusted oil barrel with the Texaco logo, she refused the donation vaguely stating that she did not "want to be a part of this".
She then demanded that the men leave the building.
Inside the office, a stand displayed an enlarged copy of a $500,000 check by Chevron made out to the museum.
For the first time Chevron was holding its annual shareholder's meeting at the Petroleum Museum in Midland, Texas, instead of the corporate headquarters in California.
But even there executives were yesterday greeted by a spirited demonstration by Ecuadorian indigenous people, together with US based human rights advocates and environmentalists and Chevron Toxico supporters.
Between 1964 and 1990, Texaco, which merged with Chevron in 2001, used illegal disposal methods to systematically dump roughly 18 billion gallons of toxic waste into unlined pits and local waterways in Ecuador's rainforest, contaminating soil and water sources for local communities.
Environmental crimes unpunished - so far
The photographs brought by the indigenous representatives depict the struggle that Ecuador's rainforest communities have endured for decades due to a massive oil contamination - which according to a court ruling and Chevron experts, was caused by Texaco, now Chevron.
The result has been lasting environmental damage and a public health crisis. The issue has amounted to a 20-year legal battle between the affected communities and Chevron, which still remains unresolved.
According to the representatives, the photos belong in the museum because Texaco's contamination in Ecuador is an important part of the history of petroleum. Piaguaje told reporters that their intention was to inform Chevron shareholders and the public about what Chevron-Texaco did in Ecuador.
"My brother-in-law died of cancer at 42 and a little girl, six year old died with Leukemia, all of this makes me suffer because a very small nation is dying", said Piaguaje.
"No matter where they go, we will be there to face the company's management and shareholders until justice is made and Chevron takes responsibility for what they did in our homeland."
See also: 'Your investment in Chevron will never be safe!' - an open letter to Chevron shareholders.
Humberto Piaguaje & Robinson Yumbo are representatives of UDAPT, The Union of People Affected by Texaco (UDAPT).
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