Ecuador: Peasant activist assassinated

Ecuadorian campesino and environmental leader Angel Shingre was murdered on Nov. 4 in the city of Coca, Orellana province, where he lived. Shingre was a member and leader of numerous peasant and environmental groups in the region.

Shingre became involved in the environmental movement because he was directly involved in the ecological damage inflicted by the U.S. oil company Texaco (now ChevronTexaco). At the time of his death, Shingre served as coordinator of the Office of Environmental Law in Orellana province, where he was advising communities engaged in a lawsuit against ChevronTexaco. Shingre had reportedly received threats from people linked to the oil industry. Local community leaders and activists have demanded a full investigation of the murder.

The civil trial against ChevronTexaco began on Oct. 21 in the court of Nueva Loja on behalf of 30,000 Ecuadorans who say the company damaged their health and way of life by poisoning their environment. The plaintiffs, represented by former Ecuadoran Supreme Court Justice Alberto Wray and supported by a U.S. legal team, want ChevronTexaco to pay for cleanup and medical monitoring costs.

“We have water studies that show that people are drinking contaminated water caused by this pollution, caused by the oil – that they are drinking contaminants that are known to cause cancer,” said U.S. lawyer Steve Donziger.

From Weekly News Update, Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York