An oil spill has caused damage to animals and nature in the Ecuadorian rainforest where Mireya Gualinga and her people Kichwa live. Photo: Mike Gualinga.


Swedish fund money is invested in polluting oil giants

Several Swedish AP funds and several large Swedish banks invest in companies that engage in deforestation and violate human rights in various places in the world - something that affects, among other things, the Amazon rainforest and indigenous peoples. "These companies are killing our earth. They are plundering the last help the earth can offer – and that is the forest," says Mireya Gualinga, climate and indigenous activist from the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Mireya Gualinga comes from the village of Sarayaku in the Amazon rainforest. She belongs to the indigenous people of Kichwa and her village is one of the oldest villages of the people. Her people and her village are known for defending the rights of indigenous peoples and the Amazon rainforest from big companies like the oil giant Chevron.

Kichwa has a strong connection to the Amazon. They live in a way that benefits rainforest ecosystems and biodiversity. Mireya Gualinga talks about how the Amazon is the heart and the starting point for how her people live.

- The Amazon for me is my home, my world, and the place where I integrate with all the creatures of nature. I'm part of her and she's part of me. She continues:

- For all indigenous peoples here, the Amazon is our mother, she is alive with a consciousness that consists of all nature's creatures. For several generations we have lived in a sustainable way - dependent on nature.

The company Texaco, which is now owned by the large company Chevron, has previously caused an extensive oil spill in Ecuador's rainforest. Photo: Mireya Gualinga.
Sweden - a leader in the climate issue?

When world leaders gathered for the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow in the autumn, Sweden participated with the message that it is one of the leading countries in the fight against the climate crisis.

And although Sweden is making great progress nationally, outside the country's borders it sometimes looks different. Because at the same time as Sweden is upgrading and investing in a green industrial development, it continues Swedish banks and pension funds to invest in companies that wreak havoc on the Amazon rainforest as well as on the indigenous peoples who live there.

One of the multinational companies that major Swedish banks, including County insurances, until recently invested in, and which seventh AP Fund continues to invest in, is the oil giant Chevron. The company owns the company Texaco, which have been involved in what is called Amazon Chernobyl in Ecuador - an oil spill that has spread via waterways and caused enormous damage to animals and nature in the rainforest. It has been difficult to estimate the number of deaths related to these pollutants, but hundreds of thousands of people are thought to have been affected by the number miscarriage, cancer and birth defects has increased sharply among indigenous peoples in these areas, according to with the BBC.

- The economically strong countries do not see the suffering of the planet and humanity. They only think about the economy, and not about the damage they cause to all living things, says Mireya Gualinga. She continues:

- What should they do next, when they do not have another planet to go to? Why do we not take care of our earth now that we have a chance to recover?

Amazon Chernobyl

Chevron bought the oil giant Texaco in 2001. Since the 60s, Texaco has engaged in extensive deforestation in order to extract oil in the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador. In addition to extracting oil, so has the company also dumped about 66 billion liters of polluted water and 64 million liters of crude oil in the Amazon rainforest between 1964 and 1992. This oil spill has been devastating consequences in parts of the Amazon, where the pollution of nature and waterways has poisoned animals as well as humans.

Picture of the oil spill caused by Texaco. Photo: Cancillería del Ecuador. Source: Flickr.

In addition to the damage that Texaco has caused, Mireya Gualinga also talks about other foreign oil giants such as General Company of Combustibles (CGC), a company that, with the help of the Ecuadorian government's forces, occupied large parts of the Sarayaku people's territories in order to engage in oil extraction. Against the will and permission of the indigenous peoples, forests have been razed, caves have been blasted, water sources and underground have been destroyed in order to engage in seismic exploration - a technology used to locate raw materials such as oil.

- They cut down trees and plants of great environmental, cultural and livelihood value for Sarayaku and the people's spirituality. They violated our property rights and our right to use the resources available in our forest, says Mireya Gualinga.

She talks about how companies like CGC and Chevron-Texaco have already caused a great deal of damage to the Amazon and its people. How their pollutants affect the soil, water, air and above all human life so much that the people in the area suffer from life-threatening diseases caused by the pollutants.

- These companies only think about money, and they do not think about the damage they cause to all living things. Nor do they realize that the earth is out of balance and about to suffer its end.

Invest in a sustainable future

Utvecklingsmagasinet has tried to reach the seventh AP fund, but has not received a response. When Johan Florén, head of communications and corporate governance at the Seventh AP Fund, was interviewed by Funds Direct Regarding the continued investments in Chevron, he says that the idea is that you can try to get companies to change their behavior by continuing to invest in them.

- We are looking to influence the companies, said Johan Florén in interview.

Mireya Gualinga considers it unnecessary for Swedish banks and AP funds to invest in companies such as Chevron-Texaco. Instead of investing in companies that may destroy humanity in the future, Swedish funds and banks should invest in companies that want to protect nature and our future.

"The funds should invest in other companies that benefit all of humanity, that protect the environment so that the planet's balance can be maintained," she says.

Pictured: Amazon rainforest in Ecuador. Photo: Dallas Kretzel. Source: Flickr.

Mireya Gualinga concludes by talking about the importance of preserving and protecting the earth's indigenous peoples, and that we should work with indigenous peoples if we want to guarantee a future where the earth's ecosystem and biodiversity are protected. She hopes that today's young generation will become aware of these companies, and that together they will fight and stand up against the companies that treat nature and people in a violent way.

- Indigenous peoples are not the ones who have primarily caused climate change, but we can be the ones who contribute primarily to future solutions. Like any other people, we want to continue to exist under peace, justice and freedom. I urge governments around the world and all of humanity to change their thinking to save nature and the earth. 

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