Testimonial of Luz Maria Marin, of Shushufindi
My husband, angel Toala, and I came here to the Amazon 23 years ago from the mountains in Santo Domingo. We came because he was told you could earn good money with the oil companies here. We have six children.
Angel worked on the pipeline for Texaco for five years, and that is how we’ve been able to buy this farm. Mostly we grew coffee, plantains, yuca, some cacao.
There’s a Texaco pumping station near our house and the Texaco oil well 200 yards from our house, and downstream is a leak where the crude oil they dumped gathers. We never let the animals drink this water. A lot of times we found dead fish in it. Our coffee plants there turned yellow and died.
We got our drinking water from the rain, and, when it didn’t rain, from the stream. It had a funny taste and sometimes you could see oil floating on top. We based there and washed our clothes there. We knew the water was bad for our health, but what could we do? There wasn’t water anywhere else.
I don’t think the oil company worried if they contaminated the water. We farmers didn’t realize the water was contaminated, and certainly was not in the oil company’s interest to tell us that.
About three years ago, my husband started having stomach pains, slight pains when he ate. He couldn’t eat as much as he used to. Certain foods made him feel bad, and he couldn’t eat meat, or fish. About a year ago he started losing weight.
Then his back began hurting, and his muscles. He felt tired. At the end he couldn’t take the sun. He was so tired; he didn’t have any energy.
In Quito he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. We took him to the Eugenio Espejo Hospital but the doctor said that it was too late, nothing could be done.
The last three months before he died, he couldn’t do anything. He just lay in the hammock.