EspañolOn Tuesday in Guayaquil, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa accused the multinational oil company Chevron of cheating justice in the country. Government reports found the oil company hired technicians to conduct extrajudicial visits to crucial oil zones in connection with a multi-billion-dollar environmental-contamination lawsuit filed against Chevron by the Ecuadorian government.
The Ecuadorian courts ruled Chevron guilty last November and ordered US$9.5 billion in compensation to indigenous settlers for the damage caused to the environment in the areas the company operated. During a press conference, Correa explained that Chevron conducted “prior inspections” of the areas in question where the damage took place with the intention of deceiving the court.
Further, according to the president, following the extrajudicial inspections, Chevron was then made aware of the extent of the environmental damage it had caused and deliberately hid that information during the trial.
“They are shameless scoundrels who knew they had contaminated, but with their millions wanted to go unpunished,” said Correa.
James Craig, a Chevron spokesman, responded by telling Reuters that the president’s accusations were unfounded.
“These accusations, just like the previous ones made by Correa and his subordinates, are completely baseless,” he said.
The Justice Department in Ecuador accused Chevron, which purchased Texaco in 2011, of contamination of the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest between 1964 and 1992. Chevron defended itself by claiming Texaco had cleaned all wells of waste before handing them over to state-owned Petroecuador, which remains in control of those wells today.
After being ordered to pay its fine of US$9.5 billion, Chevron appealed its case to a New York court, arguing the court’s decision against the company was achieved by way of conspiracy. The company accused Ecuador’s lawyers of assembling a plot to punish them. On March 4, the judge ruled against Ecuador and in favor of Chevron, but Correa rejected the ruling.
“They [the court in New York] say, without any evidence, that the Ecuadorian government interfered in the trial, accepting the anti-government media’s claims that the courts in this country are not independent,” Correa remarked. He then added: “How far is the reach of this arrogance? How far is the reach of imperialism!”
Correa stated that the judgment in this case by the North American courts was a clear violation of Ecuadorian sovereignty, and clarified that the initial ruling would be appealed. The Amazon Defense Front (FDA), which unites the indigenous plaintiffs, has also stated that the decision from the court in New York “will not stop the collection” of the billion dollar damages from Chevron.
International Anti-Chevron Day
On Wednesday, International Anti-Chevron Day was celebrated in several countries around the world to protest the oil company’s business practices and perceived lack of environmental considerations. The event takes place in May to coincide with the company’s shareholder’s meeting held at its headquarters in San Ramon, California.
The protest is organized by the Union of People Affected by Chevron-Texaco and other environmental organizations, and was held in 13 countries, including Argentina, Ecuador, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Romania, Canada, Nigeria, Spain, Germany, United States, Belgium, Brazil, and France.
According to a statement from the Union of People Affected by Chevron-Texaco, this day is meant to “raise the voice of those who have consistently suffered the impact of poor environmental practices of this multinational company.”
The organization denounced the “continued violation of individual and collective rights caused by the irresponsible actions of the oil company, which have resulted in death, disease, devastation to the environment, on top of its persecution of those who exercise their right to issue complaints and seek justice.”
Demonstrations against the company can be followed on social media through the Chevron’s Dirty Hand campaign. The website released a statement in light of International Anti-Chevron Day, demanding the company take responsibility for the damage it has caused.
— Presidencia ECU (@Presidencia_Ec) May 6, 2014
They also boast the support of several international celebrities and media personalities: “Gathered to observe the damage caused by this oil company: Amba Jackson, granddaughter of Mick Jagger, actress Mia Farrow, former presidential candidate of France, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, attorney and journalist Eva Golinger, US actor Danny Glover, the group Calle 13, and several international journalists.”