Although they were caught off guard in 1964, the inhabitants of the Oriente organized and fought back. Under the banner of the Frente de Defensa de la Amazonía (Amazon Defense Coalition), the Ecuadorian victims of Texaco's toxic mess filed a landmark class-action lawsuit against the company. The lawsuit, first filed in 1993 in New York, was refiled in 2003 in a Lago Agrio courtroom, after a U.S. judge granted Texaco's request that the case be heard in Ecuador. By then, Chevron had purchased Texaco and inherited the lawsuit and Texaco's toxic legacy.
In successive rulings in 2011 and 2012, after nearly two decades of litigation, the Ecuadorian plaintiffs won a landmark judgment against Chevron: $19 billion to clean up contamination in the Oriente and provide health care and potable water to area residents.
The case is unprecedented. It marks the first time indigenous people have won a judgment against a U.S. company in a foreign court for environmental crimes, and experts have called the damage the worst oil related contamination on the planet. The ruling against Chevron will have repercussions far beyond Ecuador. The oil industry and communities around the world are watching and waiting on the outcome. When Chevron ultimately pays for a clean-up, it will put multinational corporations on notice that they can and will be held accountable for environmental and human rights abuses anywhere in the world. No longer do they have the green light to continue operating with business-as-usual impunity.
Amazon Watch has worked for years with the affected communities in the case to monitor the trial, keep news of the trial in the spotlight and pressure Chevron to do the right thing in Ecuador. We have successfully applied a combination of shareholder activism, media pressure, and direct action to expose these efforts and keep the heat on Chevron's increasingly desperate management. Now that Chevron has been convicted and sentenced in courts of law, we need continuing support to ensure that Chevron cannot evade justice for its crimes. Visit the Take Action section to learn how you can help track down this corporate criminal on the run!