Crude Reflections/Cruda Realidad
Oil, Ruin and Resistance in the Amazon Rainforest
Lou Dematteis, Kayana Szymczak

Foreword by Trudie Styler, Sting




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Crude Gold

"Oil has been much in the news lately, and two recent books bring the impact of its exploitations vividly to light. Crude Reflections/Cruda Realidad, with photographs by Lou Dematteis and Kayana Szymczak, is a relatively understated book showing the effects of oil poisoning on the Ecuadorian rain forest and its indigenous people. Many of those portrayed are sick, have birth defects, or have since died as a result of living on land contaminated and abandoned by Texaco (now Chevron)."

-Rupert Jenkins, Photo-Eye Magazine Jan 28, 2009

EcoJustice: Coming to Ecuador, with or without Chevron

"Lou's photos not only tell the story of the human and ecological cost of our oil addiction, but they've been invaluable visual documents helping to keep Chevron/Texaco, the culprit of this epic environmental catastrophe, from engaging in 'pollute and run' business as usual.

Most importantly, these images highlight the power of local communities not only in fighting the corporate juggernaut that is fleecing the planet's resources for short term profits, but in calling attention to the systemic problems inherent in fossil fuel dependent economic models, and inspiring sustainable solutions for all."

-citisven, Daily Kos Aug 23, 2010

Bottomless Precedent: BP Gulf Gusher Endemic to Global Oil Problem

"After 17 years of waiting for a court decision, more than 30,000 rainforest dwellers in Ecuador continue to hang in limbo. The community has taken on one of the largest companies in the world, Chevron, for allegedly having polluted nearly 2000 square miles of the Ecuadorian Amazon—an area the size of Rhode Island—turning the lush vegetation into a cancer death-zone."

-Aubrey Ann Parker, Circle of Blue Jun 22, 2010

Ungreen Energy's Human Costs

"Most of the green energy talk these days is about how renewable energy will help reduce global climate disruption by lowering the output of greenhouse gases. But there are other costs associated with ungreen energy, too, including environmental contamination inflicted by the extraction of fossil fuels like coal and petroleum.

Those costs are borne unequally by the haves and have-nots of this planet, but geographic separation often allows us to ignore this inconvenient truth. That is, unless someone makes us look.

Photographers Lou Dematteis and Kayana Szymczak visited Ecuador between 2003 and 2007 to document the aftermath of oil drilling by Texaco (now a division of Chevron). They've just published their photos in Crude Reflections: Oil, Ruin and Resistance in the Amazon Rainforest, a collection of disturbingly beautiful photographs from City Lights Books."

-Randy Alfred, Wired Jan 22, 2009

New Photo Book Proves That Chevron Caused Ecuador's "Amazon Chernobyl"

"Without sentiment, Crude Reflections presents the gruesome evidence of human suffering that is occurring in Ecuador. This indictment is crucial now, right as Chevron tries to weasel their way out of facing a major court decision that has been in the making since a case was first opened in 1993 against them by Ecuadorians. The verdict will justifiably announce the company's wrongdoing to a world audience and possibly bankrupt it as well."

-Levi Novey, EcoWordly Oct 24, 2008

City Lights: half a century on the cutting edge of publishing
"Photojournalist Lou Dematteis, recently got City Lights' backing for Crude Reflections. The book documents the impact of TexacoChevron's oil excavation of the Ecuadorian basin, where doctors report higher levels of cancer and birth defects from water pollution. 'Others were really interested in the story, but went no further because they were worried about a lawsuit,' said Dematteis. 'City Lights had similar concerns but they had the courage to publish. Without an independent publisher, it would never have made it.'"
-Megan Walsh, London Times Aug 18, 2008

Chevron Lobbyist: 'We Can't Let Little Countries Screw Around With Big Companies'
"Few legal battles have been more exotic than the lawsuit tried over the past five years in a steamy jungle courtroom in Ecuador's Amazon rain forest. Brought by a group of U.S. trial lawyers on behalf of thousands of indigenous Indian peasants, the suit accuses Chevron of responsibility for the dumping (allegedly conducted by Texaco, which Chevron bought in 2001) of billions of gallons of toxic oil wastes into the region's rivers and streams. Activists describe the disaster as an Amazon Chernobyl. The plaintiffs-some suffering from cancer and physical deformities-have showed up in court in native garb, with painted faces and half naked. Chevron vigorously contests the charges and has denounced the entire proceeding as a 'shakedown.'"
-Michael Isikoff, Newsweek Jul 29, 2008

Book Digest
"Despite a recent loss, I do have some books for you to heed. You can take my word for it—in any event, it's the only word I am capable of at this moment—that they are worth your attention.

10. Crude Reflections/Cruda realidad: Oil, Ruin, and Resistance in the Amazon Rainforest by Lou Dematteis and Kayana Szymczak"
-Robert Birnbaum, The Morning News Jul 28, 2008

LIBRO: Cruda realidad
"Los fotógrafos Lou Dematteis de San Francisco y Kayana Szymczak de Nueva York, unieron esfuerzos para denunciar a través del libro Cruda realidad, la catástrofe provocada por la compañía petrolera Chevron (antes Texaco) en la selva amazónica ecuatoriana..."
-Manuel Ortiz, Alianza News Jun 10, 2008

Interview: Pablo Fajardo
"The only thing that I hope for in the Texaco case is that justice can be done. Those of us who live here have a great opportunity to demonstrate to the rest of the country that we are men and women with rights equal to those of others."
-Chris Hufstader, Oxfam America May 1, 2008

Chevron risks lives and its reputation in Ecuador
"Chevron's PR offensive against two of this year's Goldman Environmental Prize winners shows the degree to which senior management at the San Ramon-based oil major has lost its way. In this age of growing social and environmental awareness, with good corporate governance increasingly seen to have an ethical dimension, Chevron risks becoming a corporate anachronism, with executives fixated on the quarterly bottom line but lacking a long-term vision for their brand."
-Atossa Soltani, San Francisco Chronicle Apr 23, 2008

Controversy mires choice for Goldman Prize

"The award Monday of the Goldman Environmental Prize to a pair of Ecuadoran activists fighting Chevron Corp. to clean up oil contamination in the Amazon rain forest brought a raging controversy over an international ecological disaster home to San Francisco.

The two men, lawyer Pablo Fajardo Mendoza and community organizer Luis Yanza, were among half a dozen grassroots environmentalists from around the world who were feted at the San Francisco Opera House on Monday and awarded $150,000 apiece to continue their work on projects that range from improving sanitation in Mozambique to protecting wetlands in Puerto Rico to shutting down polluters in Russia.

'For us personally, the prize is important; it strengthens our will to keep going,' said Yanza after a press conference Monday morning at the Fairmont Hotel. 'It's also a political boost for all the people working all across the Amazon to protect the environment.'"

-Tyche Hendricks, San Francisco Chronicle Apr 15, 2008

Chevron casts doubt on award winners
"On Monday night the Opera House in San Francisco was a gathering of ecological significance—not artistic.

The Goldman Foundation awarded its annual environmental prizes. Among the recipients just honored were two Ecuadorians fighting petro-chemical waste in the Amazon forest.

There is controversy that surrounds their choice—at least for the Chevron Corporation."

-Wayne Freedman, ABC 7 News Apr 15, 2008

2008 Goldman Award Winners
"Fighting for justice after what has been called one of the most catastrophic environmental disasters in history, Luis Yanza and Pablo Fajardo are leading an unprecedented community-driven legal battle against a global oil giant. According to the plaintiffs, beginning in 1964 and through 1990, Texaco dumped nearly 17 million gallons of crude oil and 20 billion gallons of drilling wastewater directly into the Ecuadorian Amazon. Allegedly suffering from the health effects of the pollution, the region's inhabitants are demanding a complete cleanup in potentially the largest environmental lawsuit ever filed in the world. Yanza co-founded the Amazon Defense Front to organize 30,000 inhabitants of the northern Ecuadorian Amazon in a class-action lawsuit against Texaco, which was acquired by Chevron in 2001. The lead lawyer, Pablo Fajardo, a resident of one of the affected communities, has become the public voice of the plaintiffs."
-Goldman Environmental Prize Apr 14, 2008

Ecotopia features Lou Dematteis and Kayana Szymczak
"In Crude Reflections, Lou Dematteis and Kayana Szymczak collaborated to document the effects of ChevronTexaco's negligent oil waste disposal practices in the Ecadorian Amazon from 1964-1992, and the fight to obtain remediation.

Visit the exhibition here."
-International Center of Photography Apr 1, 2008

Pablo Fajardo Wins CNN Hero Award
"Pablo Fajardo, the lead lawyer for the 30,000 plaintiffs in the landmark environmental lawsuit against Chevron (formerly Texaco) in Ecuador has won the CNN Hero award, in the Fighting for Justice category.

Fajardo was chosen from more than 7,000 nominations from 80 countries. The international cable news station established the Fighting for Justice category to recognize leaders 'advancing the cause of civil or equal rights.'

The honor again highlights the class-action lawsuit, brought by 30,000 impoverished rainforest dwellers, against one of the world's largest corporations and Chevron's fierce rearguard battle against the plaintiffs."
-Reuters Dec 7, 2007

Pablo Fajardo Nominated for CNN Hero Award
"Pablo Fajardo, the lead lawyer for the 30,000 plaintiffs in the landmark environmental lawsuit against Chevron (formerly Texaco) in Ecuador has been named as one of three finalists in the Fighting for Justice category of CNN’s Hero awards.

Fajardo was chosen from more than 7,000 nominations from 80 countries submitted by viewers to CNN over five months. The international cable news station established the Fighting for Justice category to recognize leaders 'advancing the cause of civil or equal rights.'"
-Mitch Anderson, ChevronToxico Nov 26, 2007

Jungle Law: Politics & Power
"In 1972, crude oil began to flow from Texaco's wells in the area around Lago Agrio ('sour lake'), in the Ecuadorean Amazon. Born that same year, Pablo Fajardo is now the lead attorney in an epic lawsuit—among the largest environmental suits in history—against Chevron, which acquired Texaco in 2001. Reporting on an emotional battle in a makeshift jungle courtroom, the author investigates how many hundreds of square miles of surrounding rain forest became a toxic-waste dump."
-William Langewiesche, Vanity Fair May 1, 2007