[Marxism] Adam Zuckerman responds to Stansfield Smith's attack on indigenous groups in Ecuador

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Feb 24 17:47:55 MST 2016

(A comment posted on my blog article: 

Really good critique of Stan Smith and his trolling. Here is my response 
to his hit piece on me:

Stansfield Smith’s personal attack against me is as misleading, 
erroneous and poorly researched as his hit piece on my employer, Amazon 
Watch, to which we replied here. Mr. Smith, who is the co-administrator 
of a Facebook group called “Friends of Ecuador–North America” –which 
serves as the home base for Smith’s ramblings–does not seem to have any 
interest in objectivity. His most recent attack is a mess of 
insinuations and conspiracy theories so convoluted that they would put a 
logic professor in a tizzy, so I will address his attacks one-by-one:

Business Insider takes its disinformation story from another March 2013 
Guardian article titled, “Ecuador auctions off Amazon to Chinese oil 
firms” an article which provides no evidence to support its title. This 
Guardian article also mostly relies on Zuckerman of Amazon Watch…Both 
articles never state Ecuador did actually sell Amazon rainforests to 
Chinese companies; they allege Ecuador “planned” to sell a third, though 
this “plan” is not corroborated by any evidence. Now almost three years 
later, no rainforest has yet to be sold to China, but the same concocted 
story is repeated.

Contrary to Smith’s insinuation, being quoted in an article does not 
mean that you either wrote it nor agree with every word in it. And why 
does Smith say that the article relies mainly on me? I have one quote in 
the article, which also quotes an indigenous leader and a letter from 
the seven indigenous nationalities of the south central Ecuadorian 
Amazon, all of whom condemned the oil round threatening their territory. 
It also quotes Ecuador’s then-Minister of Hydrocarbons who was promoting 
the oil auction.

And yes, the Ecuadorian government was in Beijing for a promotional road 
show and private meetings with Chinese government officials and oil 
company executives to try to auction off 20-year leases for oil drilling 
in millions of acres of the Amazon to Chinese oil companies. Before they 
deleted the website in the last week for their 11th Round Oil Auction 
(you can still see some information here), the Ecuadorian government 
publicized that then-Minister of Non Renewable Natural Resources Wilson 
Pastor and a “technical team from the Secretariat of Hydrocarbons” met 
with six different companies in Beijing, including Sinochem. As 
then-Minister of Non Renewable Natural Resources Wilson Pastor told a 
reporter from EFE, “The motive of our presence is to promote the 11th 
Oil Round, which we started this year in Colombia, the US, and France. 
We could not leave off China, which is our principal strategic ally in 
economic development.” Ultimately, the only company that signed a deal 
from the oil auction was Andes Petroleum, a conglomerate of Chinese 
state-owned CNPC and Sinopec. However, Amazon Watch did not single China 
out. In fact, the only road shows that we physically protested were not 
in Beijing but in Houston, Calgary, and Paris.

This same story slamming Ecuador President Correa and China for forcibly 
displacing indigenous people and destroying the rainforest for the sake 
of oil profits reappeared in June-July 2015. This just happened to 
coincide with a rightwing (sic) protests in Ecuador against Correa, over 
his raising taxes on the rich.

There is no mention in either the Business Insider story nor in the 
Guardian story of Correa “forcibly displacing indigenous people.” 
However, here is an article about indigenous and campesino communities 
in southern Ecuador denouncing government efforts to displace them to 
clear the way for more mining by Chinese mining company Ecuacorriente. 
In the Ecuadorian government’s “investment catalogue,” they are 
promoting a massive expansion of mining in indigenous territory in Ecuador.

Furthermore, I never spoke with the reporter at Business Insider, let 
alone the bloggers who quoted the Business Insider article years later 
without my knowledge. Smith’s insinuation is that I’m somehow colluding 
with right wing protesters, which is both baseless and libelous. In 
fact, when I lived in Ecuador I attended a rally supporting President 
Correa that was a response to the attempted coup by the military and the 
police. Amazon Watch was a major supporter of Correa’s Yasuní-ITT 
Initiative. Our founder was an official Ambassador for the proposal and 
we worked closely with the government of Ecuador on technical components 
of the proposal itself, as well as promotion and fundraising.

Smith’s piece proceeds to quote an “outrageous article” allegedly by 
Amazon Watch criticizing the response of the Ecuadorian government to 
Indigenous and civil society protests. But a simple reading of the 
“article” shows that it is a declaration from the indigenous Kichwa 
people of Sarayaku and not a statement from Amazon Watch. It begins with 
the following sentence: “The People of the Zenith, SARAYAKU, once again 
are present in solidarity with the call from distinct social sectors, 
the country’s indigenous communities and social movements to defend 
human dignity, nature and biodiversity against the devastating threat of 
oil exploitation in our lands.” They also sign it as the Kichwa People 
of Sarayaku and we note “English translation by Amazon Watch. Below is 
the original statement in Spanish.”

Smith then goes on to repeat desperate attacks from his last piece, all 
of which we have already already debunked. Smith falsely accuses Amazon 
Watch of being “corporate-backed,” despite the facts that his own link 
disproves his point. He insinuates that we are in cahoots with the US 
government that supports the Trans Pacific Partnership despite the fact 
that for years we have opposed it very publicly, including in a 2010 
letter to President Obama. Then he calls us “a leader in the struggle to 
make Chevron pay for its environmental crimes in Ecuador” before 
insinuating that we are working with Chevron on an “anti-Correa campaign 
[that] happens to coincide with the successes of Ecuador’s legal case 
against Chevron.” WHAT?! So we worked with our longest adversaries, a 
group that we’ve campaigned against for the last fourteen years and have 
nominated to the Corporate Hall of Shame multiple times, because we were 
upset that our campaign was too successful??!!

Defending yourself from Stansfield Smith’s personal attacks is like 
arguing with Donald Trump; you can’t win because he has no respect for 
facts or reality. I have to return to work–helping to advance the rights 
of indigenous peoples and protect the Amazon. I encourage Mr. Smith to 
do the same.











More information about the Marxism mailing list