Testimonial of José Miguel Mashumar & Maria Claudia Antuash
José Mashumar: We are from the Shuar indigenous nation. We came here in 1978, looking for a better life and a good education. We had 8 children but our two daughters died.
When I arrived, Texaco had already drilled [Auca Sur] oil well #12 along with its open waste pit. The separation station was about 100 yards from the house. Each oil well had its waste pit and when Texaco left the country the pits were left uncovered. In 1994, they sent someone to remediate them, and they covered the waste pits with dirt.
To cut down on the dust, Texaco used to spray oil on the dirt road, then scrape it with big machines, and the road was then like asphalt. But when the sun shone, the road began to break apart, and oil bubbled up, and when it rained, oil washed out of it.
The waste pits used to have flares that burned off gas. They were so loud that you couldn’t hear anything. They sounded like they were going to explode, and you couldn’t sleep at night.
Maria Antuash: Back then, there were no laws. The smoke came into our house. They say that the burning gas that my daughter breathed could have caused her illness.
José: The stream was 50 meters from our house and chemicals were dumped into it. Oh, it stank! The water ran like a natural stream but it was warm toxic waste water [formation water]. We had headaches, dizziness, stomach aches. And there was nowhere to make a complaint, no institution, no agency, no one to turn to.
Our children loved to fish and swim in the river. They came home covered in crude. We fried the fish they caught and the fish tasted like diesel.
Our daughter Maria married, had two children, separated, and then resumed studying. After her second year, she got sick, and never recovered. She was 24 years old and had tuberculosis. Now we’re raising her children.
Our other daughter, Rosa, died quickly, in 15 days. She couldn’t breeze, her liver hurt. She had a fever, and a headache. We took her to the doctors but the medicine they gave her made her worse. She died two days later. She was 12.