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Amazon Leaders to Call on Oil Industry to Stop Destruction of Rainforest
Leaders Arrive in Los Angeles to Make Major Announcement Regarding Occidental Petroleumâ€™s Drilling on their Lands
Press Conference and Photo Op. with Achuar Leaders and Hollywood Supporters
Interviews on request in Los Angeles on Monday through Thursday.
Photos/ B-Roll footage available upon request
WHAT: Press Conference and Photo Opportunity
WHO: Jorge Fachin, Gonzalo Payma Carijano and Marcial Huaman Sandi, leaders of the Achuar indigenous nation of the northern Peruvian Amazon Lily la Torre, leading human rights lawyer, Racimos de Ungurahui, Peru Qâ€™orianka Kilcher, award-winning actress, â€œThe New Worldâ€, Amazon Watch Youth Ambassador Atossa Soltani, Executive Director, Amazon Watch
WHEN: 10.30am, Wednesday, December 6, 2006
WHERE: Greg Gorman Studio, 8275 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048 (corner of N. Sweetzer Ave.)
BACKGROUND: The Achuar have come to Los Angeles to make a major announcement regarding Occidental Petroleum (Oxy), the Los Angeles-based company which holds oil drilling rights to the Achuarâ€™s rainforest homelands.
Currently, they are asking Oxy to remediate the billions of barrels of toxic waste it dumped on their rainforest homelands over 30 years and to leave the new drilling concessions. Oxy also holds rights to new drilling concessions on other parts of Achuar territory (concession blocks 64, 101, and 103) covering 6.3 million acres of some of the largest areas of intact primary tropical rainforest anywhere in the world.
The Achuar have been fighting to protect their rainforest home land and their rights in the face of oil â€œdevelopmentâ€ for more than three decades. One part of their lands, former Oxy concession 1AB, has already been devastated by oil-related contamination. Local communities now face a public health crisis with a recent government report revealing dangerous concentrations of lead and cadmium in blood samples taken from the Achuar. Another neighboring area of Achuar lands, covering pristine primary tropical rainforests, is now threatened by new drilling concessions held by Oxy, Amerada Hess and ConocoPhillips, issued by the Peruvian government against the Achuarâ€™s clearly-stated wishes.
The press conference in LA marks the latest leg of the Achuarâ€™s speaking tour of the U.S., visiting New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco and Houston, in a bid to persuade the oil industry to respect the Achuars' wishes and stay out of their rainforest territories.
It also comes just over a month after a historic victory by the Achuar against Pluspetrol, the Argentine-company that took over Oxyâ€™s former concession. As part of that landmark agreement, the dumping, which continues to this day, is due to be phased out over the next 18 months. The deal was struck with Pluspetrol and the Peruvian government after 800 Achuar peacefully blockaded a Pluspetrol facility for two weeks in October, bringing oil production to a standstill. Several Achuar leaders, including Mr. Payma Carijano, and their lawyer, Ms. la Torre, now face criminal charges arising out of that peaceful protest in a move which human rights advocates have condemned as setting a disturbing precedent against the right to peaceful protest in Peru and which has flagged doubts about the commitment to democracy of the administration of recently-elected President Alan GarcÃa.
Qâ€™orianka Kilcher, who starred as Pocahontas opposite Colin Farrell in the Terrence Malick film â€œThe New Worldâ€, recently visited Achuar communities in the northern Peruvian rainforest. She is of Peruvian Amazonian ancestry and was recently named Amazon Watchâ€™s Youth Ambassador.