Social injustices are prevalent throughout the world. This complex topic occurs in many different forms and with varying degrees.
Social Injustice in South America
Indigenous peoples in South America are all are too familiar with the social injustices that accompany the desire for excess profit. Below are a couple cases of indirect and direct social injustices that are occurring in South America as a result of rampant consumerism and the encroachment of extractive industries.
Texaco/Chevron Vs Lago Agrio
Lago Agrio is the location of a legal conflict that has lasted over a decade. Lago Agrio, located in the Sucumbíos province of northeastern Ecuador, was originally home to numerous Indigenous tribes until the area caught the attention of American oil drillers in the late 1960's. The large oil reserve that existed underground in places like the Amazon rainforest possessed an immense value to the ever growing extractive industry around the world and so the drilling began.
Texaco oil company played the lead role in oil mining in the area for a substantial amount of time. The oil mining resulted in environmental contamination due to leakage in pipelines as well as well as open oil pits that were allegedly abandoned. A lawsuit was pursued to ensure that Texaco oil company took responsibility for the damages inflicted on the environment and the health of local inhabitants. Studies showed an increase in cancer rates, which is believed to be the product of water contamination by the freed oil.
Chevron inherited this lawsuit when it bought out Texco in the early 2000’s. In February 2011, the Ecuadorian court upheld an $8.9 billion ruling in favor of the Lago Agrio, which subsequently doubled when Chevron ignored the apology clause of the ruling.
Chevron has yet to pay the fine and is attempting to appeal the ruling based on alleged corruption and fraud within the Ecuadorian government.
The Achuar and Looming Oil Companies
The Achuar are an Indigenous tribe that has lived deep in the Amazon rainforest for thousands of years. Until recent decades, they were entirely isolated and self-reliant. Their strong connection and respect for their land allowed for them to live in harmony with nature.
The Achuar place great value on their dreams and their spiritual connection with nature. It was their dreams that initially cautioned them of a looming threat. Oil companies were drilling in the homes of their neighboring tribes and the destruction was all too evident. In the hopes of saving their home, the Achuar reached out to people in the U.S.—one of the very places in the world that were responsible for their threatened existence.