“In 1971, Occidental Petroleum was reinjecting their production waters back into the ground here in the United States and elsewhere where they were operating. [So] they had the technology—it was just more expensive to do it [in Peru], and no one was regulating them. This is environmental racism.” -- Mitchell Anderson, Amazon Watch
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Shouting chants such as “This is What a Clean-Up Looks Like!” and “Caution! Caution! Oxy’s toxic!” demonstrators, dressed in hazmats, marched from Westwood’s Federal Building down busy Wilshire Boulevard to the headquarters of Occidental Petroleum, where they proceeded to “clean up” the entrance. In all, 60 demonstrators were counted by Amazon Watch.
The theatrical aspect of this event drew a lot of attention from passersby. Many people reacted positively.
Speaking through a translator, Henderson Rengifo, an Achuar leader, explained that Occidental Petroleum “was in the Peruvian Amazon for over 30 years and has left the devastation and environmental destruction in our territory. We’re here today, representing the Achuar people, the people that have been affected by Occidental Petroleum’s contamination. . . .
"Occidental Petroleum, 30 years ago, knew what they were going. They made a decision, they did it deliberately, they contaminated our lands, they contaminated our rivers. Our rivers are a source of life.”
“We demand immediate clean up. We will never be quiet about what Occidental Petroleum has done. Our spiritual leaders, [inaudible name] are dying. We are furious.”
Mitchell Anderson of Amazon said: “The rivers run black in Peru because this company chose deliberately in 1971 to begin dumping and continue dumping for the next 30 years. As they turned a profit on people’s lives and the lives of animals and the environment.
“In 1971, Occidental Petroleum was reinjecting their production waters back into the ground here in the United States and elsewhere where they were operating. [So] they had the technology—it was just more expensive to do it [in Peru], and no one was regulating them. This is environmental racism. They believe that the lives of Ecuadorian, of a Peruvian is less than the lives of people here.”
Activist-actress Daryl Hannah then took the floor. “I have a hard time believing that these gentlemen over here would actually stand idly by and watch children their are dying and accept the cancer and the lead poisoning without raising their voices," she said. "I think they must just not know, and they must not believe. I think that if they go down there and witness it for themselves, there would be no denying it—and you, gentlemen [referring to some employees of Occidental photographing the demonstrators], you guys who are taking pictures, I’m inviting you to go down there and see for yourselves. And then you’ll make Occidental take responsibility for their actions in Peru.
“So please come down and visit the Achuar territory. I’m sure they’ll welcome you with open arms. You can see their children dying; their food resources devastated, the fish gone, nothing growing, you’ll see their waters running with oil slicks; and then you’ll see and you’ll know . . . .”
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