27 May 2009
Representatives of indigenous and farming communities from Ecuador's Amazon have brought their 15-year battle for justice to Chevron's doorstep. Luis Yanza, winner of the 2008 Goldman Environmental Prize, and Emergildo Criollo, a leader of the Cofán indigenous people who were decimated by oil operations on their territory are addressing CEO David O'Reilly before shareholders at the company Annual General Meeting today in San Ramon, California. A protest by a large coalition of human rights and environmental organizations is taking place outside the building.
Chevron faces a multi-billion dollar judgment in a historic lawsuit in which a decision is expected later this year. The lawsuit, which was filed in New York in 1993 and is now in trial in Ecuador at Chevron's request, is believed to be the largest environmental case in history. Yanza and Criollo represent 30,000 rainforest plaintiffs who accuse the company of environmental damage while Texaco, acquired by Chevron in 2001, was the exclusive operator of a large oil concession in the rainforest between 1964 and 1990. During that time, Texaco utilized substandard operational practices that deliberately dumped over 18 billion gallons of toxic waste water into Amazon waterways and abandoned approximately 1,000 open waste pits that continue to contaminate drinking water to this day.