Rosa Moreno, the Legendary Ecuadorian Nurse Who Battled Chevron Over Pollution of The Amazon, Tragically Dies of Cancer
San Carlos, Ecuador – 23 January 2017
Rosa Moreno, the legendary Ecuadorian nurse who hosted major celebrities such as Brad Pitt in her small jungle health clinic while serving as a medical lifeline to people battling Chevron over oil pollution, has herself succumbed to cancer apparently caused by exposure to toxins in her community, the Amazon Defense Coalition (FDA).
Moreno, who had an infectious smile and quiet grace that captured the attention of people around the world who visited the devastated area, had three adult children and had been married to Alphonso Moreno for more than three decades. Among those who visited her clinic in recent years were Brad Pitt; actor and producer Trudie Styler, wife of Sting; human rights activist Bianca Jagger; actor Darryl Hannah; and U.S. Congressman James P. McGovern.
For more than three decades, Moreno was on the front lines of the health catastrophe in Ecuador’s Amazon region caused by oil pollution in the area where Chevron discharged benzene-laced waste into rivers and streams relied on by local inhabitants for their drinking water. Moreno lived in a small house near the site of a large oil separation station surrounded by dozens of open-air waste pits gouged out of the jungle floor by Chevron and later abandoned. Many of the Chevron pits, constructed mostly in the 1970s, still contaminate soils and groundwater and have pipes that run oil sludge into nearby waterways.
San Carlos became known as “Ground Zero” in the legal battle against Chevron, given that several rivers and streams pass through the town and carry the oil contaminants into other areas where indigenous groups live. Litigation against Chevron, first brought by Moreno and others in 1993 in the United States, later transferred to Ecuador at Chevron’s request, resulted in a historic $9.5 billion judgment against the oil giant and captivated the world’s attention as one of the most successful corporate accountability campaigns ever.
Moreno was mostly known as a person who tried against all odds to stave off the impending health disaster with her compassionate care of young children. The clinic was a short walk from her house and she was often found there seven days per week. Moreno meticulously kept a handwritten log of people in the clinic who had died, often without receiving proper treatment given the paucity of doctors in the area. The list in recent years had grown to dozens of names – many were young children – even though only 2,000 people lived in the town. Each name on the list had a name, date of birth, and date of death scrawled in Moreno’s distinctive script.