About the author

Indigenous Rights
Legal Battles
New Oil Projects


After graduating from the University of North Carolina in 1991, I traveled to South America for three months to the nations of Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador. Near the end of my trip in Ecuador, I heard stories of devastation in indigenous communities, wrought by oil exploration and extraction in the rainforests. I did not visit the impacted regions at that time, but I often wondered what became of the indigenous peoples of the Oriente in their battle to choose their own destiny.

Almost ten years after that trip, I returned to study journalism at the University of Florida and pursue an interest in writing. Since arriving in Gainesville, I have acquired an interest in visual storytelling as well and started taking photojournalism classes. For my master’s thesis project, I plan to follow up on the story that so intrigued me years ago. I will travel to Ecuador to document the effects of the oil industry on the indigenous peoples of the Oriente.

At this time, I am planning to examine the social conditions of settlements already affected by the oil industry, of threatened communities still clinging to traditional lifestyles, and the struggle for indigenous rights. This project seeks to combine my skills as a photographer and writer with my interests in human rights and environmental issues.


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© 2003 Matt Levitch