Latin America's Oil Legacy
Listen to Part 1, Venezuela: Class Warfare
Listen to Part 2, Ecuador: Lost Promises
Listen to Part 3, Peru: Questioning a 'Model Project'
Ana María Hernández, a former school teacher, now sells hats on the street in Caracas' Parque Central development.
Credit: Olga R. Rodriguez, courtesy Center for Latin American Studies
» Read more reports about Latin America's oil legacy at the Center for Latin American Studies at the UC-Berkeley.
Machiguenga Indians inspect the "right of way" cleared for a natural gas pipeline, which runs along a ridge above their community in Peru. Company officials said nurseries would be planted to restore the native habitat.
Credit: Jason Felch, courtesy Center for Latin American Studies
July 2003 -- The U.S. imports more oil from Latin America than from all Middle Eastern countries combined. Oil wealth has long generated dreams of prosperity but in the lands of production, the reserves have often been a Midas curse of political and economic instability. In a three-part series for Morning Edition, Sandy Tolan and collaborating reporters
look at what went wrong with the oil dream in Venezuela; oil's last best chance in Ecuador; and the chance to get it done right with a natural gas development, the "newer, cleaner" fuel, in Peru.
The series emerged from a project involving 12 student reporters who traveled to five Latin American countries. The two-semester project was co-sponsored by the Graduate School of Journalism and Center for Latin American Studies at the University of California - Berkeley.
Below is a summary of the series:
Venezuela: Class Warfare
In Venezuela, oil has led to class warfare -- with middle class families pitted against an invigorated lower class loyal to President Hugo Chavez. The battles are a sharp contrast to the dream of social and political harmony that oil in Venezuela once promised. This story was reported by Ana Campoy and Olga Rodriguez, and narrated and produced by Tolan.
Listen to Part 1
Ecuador: Lost Promises
In Ecuador, a new oil pipeline could make the nation a top 10 supplier to the United States. But 33 years after the nation's oil industry began, citizens are asking what happened to their long-promised benefits. This story was reported by Yahaira Castro, Claudine Lomonaco, Andres Cediel and Brent McDonald, and written and produced by Tolan.
Listen to Part 2
Peru: Questioning a 'Model Project'
For decades, Amazon oil development has been blamed for environmental destruction and cultural loss for indigenous groups. Now, a consortium of petroleum companies in Peru says it can reverse that legacy, through the development of one of the largest natural gas deposits in the Americas. The Camisea project in the country's Amazon, east of the Andes and the capital of Lima, could make Peru energy independent. Companies in Peru say they can get the gas -- and send much of it on to California -- without harming the environment. Residents of Peru are not so sure. This story was reported by Jason Felch and Chris Raphael and narrated and produced by Tolan.
Listen to Part 3
Feb. 13, 2003: Thousands of Striking Oil Employees Fired in Venezuela
May 21, 2003: ChevronTexaco Faces $1-Billion Suit in Ecuador
March 4-7, 2002: Oil and Dependence, an NPR Special Report
March 7-9, 2001: The Oil Century, an NPR Series on the American Oil Industry's First 100 Years
More NPR stories on Venezuela and oil
More stories by Sandy Tolan