Poisoned Paradise

Texaco's ambitions destroy the Amazon's hidden peoples

Poisoned Paradise For decades, Texaco carved its way through the Amazon Rainforest in pursuit of oil. Now the development of these oil fields is being blamed for poisoning the indigenous people.
The Amazon rainforest used to be one of the purest environments on earth. But the discovery of oil and arrival of Texaco changed everything. "After Texaco came, people who bathed in the river and drank the water got cancer and died," laments one local. Carcinogens from Texaco's toxic oil pits are believed to have leached into the water supply and poisoned the land. Cancer rates in the area have doubled. "Hundreds of men, women and children have died," laments Luis Yanza from the Amazon Defence Front. He's launched a legal challenge to force Texaco to clean up the land. "This case sends a powerful message to oil companies all over the world," explains lawyer Steve Donziger. But Texaco is vigorously fighting the case. It refutes all allegations of wrongdoing and claims the pits pose no health risk. "The records will show that we are good corporate citizens and we will prevail in the end," proclaims Ricardo Reis Veiga, Texaco's chief council. But for some of the poisoned locals, any verdict will come to late. As one victim laments: "Everything is ruined. All my organs are finished. Now there's nothing." (ABC Aus)

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