A Hightower Lowdown Update: Diane Wilson vs. Formosa Plastics
Look up “tenacious” in the dictionary, and you will surely find a picture of Texan Diane Wilson. A total bad-ass agitator, Diane has spent decades fighting the good fight–and winning!
In 1989, Diane took on an international polluter and multibillion-dollar corporation, Formosa Plastics. Formosa was contributing to the 454 million pounds of toxins released in Calhoun County, and a stunned Diane took her first steps toward activism.
It was a long battle, and in 2019, she finally won. But she hasn’t stopped there; determined to keep plastics and contamination out of the Gulf, she continued to work to stop a Formosa plant in Louisiana. And then this fall, she took her activism to the international level, going on a hunger strike to help victims of Formosa’s pollution in Vietnam.
In 2016, Formosa poisoned an entire sea, effectively killing off most of the aquatic life, leading to 50,000 Vietnamese fishermen losing their livelihoods. Formosa gave $500 million to the Vietnamese government, but none of the fishermen were ever compensated. On October 31 of this year, Diane started a hunger strike to bring attention to the plight of these fishermen–and the greed and malfeasance of Formosa.
Today is day 30 of her hunger strike, and despite her overall spryness at 75 years old, a 30-day hunger strike was taking a very severe toll on her health. Undaunted, she refused to stop. It wasn’t until Dan Lê, a younger activist and San Antonio Bay Estuarine Waterkeeper, decided he would go on a hunger strike in her place, that she agreed to stop and pass the torch of this moment of activism to Dan.
And for more on Diane’s story, check out this 2020 Hightower Lowdown issue below, including audio excerpts from Hightower’s conversations with her.