Pink Floyd legend Roger Waters sticks it to a US oil company during a visit to the ‘Amazon’s Chernobyl’

Roger Waters in Ecuador, November 2018.
John McEvoy

Taking a break from his tour of Latin America, Roger Waters visited indigenous communities in Ecuador’s Amazonian province of Sucumbíos to denounce US oil giant Chevron. The communities are in a decades-old battle with oil corporations accused of causing massive environmental destruction. The area in question, Lago Agrio, is now being called the “Amazon’s Chernobyl” after “the deliberate dumping of billions of gallons of toxic waste on… ancestral lands”.

Us + Them

The former Pink Floyd musician visited Ecuador during his Us + Them tour. But the country’s Civil Aviation Authority initially obstructed the musician from travelling to Lago Agrio. “Certain people did not want me to visit,” claimed Waters.

After visiting the site, Waters said in an interview:

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The sad and sickening thing about the American empire is that they’ve fucked up so many other places – as did the British… as do all colonial empires, they really screw things up. They don’t help anybody to progress or go anywhere.

During the press conference, he claimed:

The whole world at some point has to decide whether the law is there to serve the people of the world or whether it’s there to serve the insatiable appetites of the oligarchs and the corporate tyranny under which we all have to survive.

He also tweeted:

‘Deadly Pollution’

Waters’ accusation of Chevron’s “deadly pollution” doesn’t seem like an exaggeration.

In 2010, the Amazon Defense Coalition’s Karen Hinton estimated that:

almost 10,000 people in Ecuador face a significant risk of contracting cancer in the coming decades due to Chevron’s refusal to clean up the billions of gallons of oil waste it dumped into the rain forest.

A recent study, meanwhile, showed that “the rate of cancer is three times greater than the national average”.

And in July 2018, Ecuador’s Constitutional Court ruled that Chevron pay US$9.5bn “for the repair and remediation of social and environmental damage that… were a result of oil company operations”.

The ruling, however, was mired in allegations of fraud – and Chevron continues to deny any wrongdoing. The International Criminal Court, moreover, ruled against Ecuador’s US$9.5bn judgment.

Waters’ fight with fire

Waters is no stranger to activism; and his latest tour has been no different.

In Brazil, he rallied against recently elected president Jair Bolsonaro, and he demanded the Ecuadorean government “protect” Julian Assange. If not, he warned, “the United States, the United Kingdom and others” will kill him.

Ultimately, Waters’ message of solidarity to Ecuador’s affected communities channelled the message of his tour. It’s us and them – and when they win, the result is total environmental catastrophe.

Featured image via screengrab via afpes

Get involved

  • Follow ChevronToxico, a campaign for oil justice in Ecuador.


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