May 8, 2012

Professor Kimerling raises awareness for endangered tribe

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Written by: Stephanie Chukwuma


n conjunction with the Political Science Club, Professor Judith Kimerling raised awareness about the devastating effects of Texaco’s oil operations on the Huaorani tribe on April 30 in Queens College’s Powdermaker Hall.

Kimerling’s presentation included comprehensive background on the Huaorani tribe, photographs of the destroyed oil-filled lands and the litigation process she endured.

Kimerling has been a leader in the lawsuit against Texaco, an oil company now owned by Chevron Corp. She has dedicated her life’s work to exposing the harm the oil industry has been causing the Huaorani tribe.

Texaco first found oil near the tribe in the Ecuadorian Amazon in 1967. Since then, continuous oil exploitation has threatened the survival of the indigenous Huoarani people in the rainforest, according to recent published reports.

“Prior to this, the Huaorani were isolated, free and had no outside communication,” the QC professor said. “Now they have lost most of their land due to oilrigs that were dug up and left with waste oil. Their waterways, which the [tribe] needs to survive, are severely contaminated with oil and the fish, which they eat, lay dead in black streams.”

Kimerling extensively researched the environmental repercussions of the oil- ruined lands in the Amazon rainforest. She also lived in Ecuador with the Huaorani tribe and managed to arrange a visit from members of the tribe to QC on May 7.

With this initiative, Kimerling hopes to highlight the effects of the pillaging of the Huaorani land by the Chevron-Texaco oil company, using QC as a platform for the tribe natives to get their voices heard through a petition signing on the Quad. Two representatives from the Huaorani community were present as well.

“They are trying to protect their own culture and identity so they can survive,” Kimerling said.

Donations were collected to compensate the Huaorani tribe for their travel expenses, as well as medical care. Kimerling and the tribe will also attend a Model United Nations conference for underrepresented groups in New York City.

“After 18 years of litigation, the impact of the lost is failed to [be] seen,” Kimerling said.

Kimerling has worked with the tribe since 1989 to help defend their territories in the Amazon Rain Forest against oil spills and oilrigs left behind by Texaco.

Approximately 10 students attended the presentation on April 30.

“I think it is great Kimerling is speaking about the environmental and political issues of the Huaorani tribe,” said Karen Rechany, president of the Political Science Club.


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