British musician and former Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters showed solidarity to the Indigenous people in Ecuador's Amazon who have been affected by Chevron's decades-long oil extraction, just a day after the country's Civil Aviation initially refused to grant permission for his plane to land in the Amazonian town of Lago Agrio.
Roger Waters Arrives in Ecuador to Visit Indigenous Communities in Amazon Affected by Chevron
In a press conference in Quito Tuesday, Waters stressed that the Chevron legal battle "is a fundamental case for the whole world," because "the world must decide at some point whether the law is there to serve the people or to serve the insatiable appetite of oligarchs and corporations.”
"Clearly, when Chevron finally makes repairs, this case will be a strong support for the law," he added.
Waters, a human rights and left-wing activist, interrupted his Latin American tour “Us + Them” to visit Ecuador and the Ecuadorean Amazon, where contamination by the United States-based fossil fuel company Chevron (formerly Texaco) has devastated Indigenous communities and the environment.
A day earlier, Waters' trip was briefly obstructed by the country's Civil Aviation Authority. In a video obtained by teleSUR, Waters is seen confronting authorities at the Quito airport about delaying his trip to the Amazon. He was heard saying that "certain people did not want me to visit Ecuador in general and, definitely, they did not want me to go to Lago Agrio," as his visit to the Ecuadorean Amazon was cut short by Civil Aviation's initial refusal to grant permission for his plane to land in the Amazonian town.
Following Waters' comments questioning the authorities' decision, Ecuador's Civil Aviation Tuesday issued a statement in an attempt to explain the incident, citing a lack of documentation for the delay.
“The aircraft … did not request the aeronautical authority permission to cover the route,” the General Directorate of Civil Aviation said in an official statement Tuesday. “Nobody of the DGAC ordered the flight to stop.”
For 25 years, Indigenous and Campesino communities have been in an uphill legal battle against the United States-based oil company.
Throughout his concert tour, Waters has been vocal about social issues in different countries including the Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation and recently denouncing Brazil’s President-elect Jair Bolsonaro over his fascist tendencies.
In a lawsuit in Ecuador, Chevron was ordered to pay US$9 billion dollars in compensation for damages. However, Chevron has refused to accept the ruling.
The company’s legal team claims the company is “defending itself against false allegations, that it is responsible for alleged environmental and social harms in the Amazon region of Ecuador.”
The plaintiffs accuse Chevron of contaminating the environment and affecting the health of the people due to the inappropriate disposal of waste during its operations.
“A recent study by Accion Ecologica (Ecological Action) showed that in the areas affected the rate of cancer is three times greater than the national average,” Alexandra Almeida of the environmental organization said in a statement.
Today the victims are fighting against a ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. The court ruled in favor of Chevron and declared Ecuador guilty of violating a bilateral investment treaty signed with the United States in 1997.
As he concluded his press conference, Waters also touched on the case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, calling on Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno to continue to "protect" the prominent whistleblower, whose asylum in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London is under threat of being terminated.
If Moreno does not, "the United States, the United Kingdom and others from the evil empire" will kill him, Waters warned."That is what they will do."
"Assange is one of the most important men on earth now, a man of great humanity, intelligence, truth, a genuine journalist who has opened the truth to the world," he said.