Human Rights Advocate Says Oil Giant Could Lose Business Worldwide Unless It "Mends It Ways" in South America
Amazon Defense Coalition
17 January 2012 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Paul Paz y Miño: +1 510.281.9020 x302, firstname.lastname@example.org
New York, NY – Human rights lawyer Kerry Kennedy has blasted Chevron as "unpatriotic" and called on the company to "mend its ways" in Ecuador or risk losing business as governments in oil-producing nations begin to perceive it as a rogue operator out of step with the modern world.
"Chevron's conduct in Ecuador has been so reprehensible and profoundly cynical that it reflects poorly on our country and its values," wrote Kennedy in a blog on The Huffington Post. "I would call that kind of behavior unpatriotic."
Kennedy added: "Chevron must mend its ways in Ecuador or risk being viewed by people worldwide as a rogue oil company unworthy of a license to operate in oil-producing nations."
Kennedy described a trip she took recently with her three daughters to the area of Ecuador's Amazon where Chevron operated for almost three decades under the Texaco brand, leading to an $18 billion judgment against the company that just last was affirmed by a three-judge appellate panel.
"We looked at pools of oily muck abandoned in the early 1970s that still drain toxic soup into nearby streams used for drinking water, fishing, and washing," Kenney wrote. "We visited the home of an elderly woman who told us about the skin lesions that covered the bodies of her son, daughter, and grandson.
"She had built the family home on a field Texaco claimed to have cleaned. In fact, the oil giant had merely covered up the poisonous pond with four feet of dirt and a thin layer of grass… all this is part of the massive environmental damage and accompanying cancer clusters, lung disease, skin lesions and other injuries left behind by a U.S. multinational corporation."
Kennedy wrote that public distrust of corporations "is often rooted in real abuses of the type Chevron engages in to cover up its obvious misconduct in Ecuador."
"Chevron's failure to adhere to basic standards of decency undermines the credibility of our capitalist model … and reflects poorly on our country and its values," she wrote.
Kennedy also called out Chevron for personally attacking those who advocate on behalf of the rainforest communities and said it was "utter fiction" that she had a stake in the outcome of the Ecuador litigation.
Chevron "seeks to intimidate anybody who wants to help the rainforest communities or advocate on their behalf," she wrote. "This is the classic Chevron template: blame the victim, change the subject, and distract from the evidence."
Kennedy is the President of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial for Human Rights and a long-time advocate for victims of human rights abuses. Aside from Ecuador and the United States, she has worked on behalf of human rights in countries as diverse as El Salvador, Kenya, South Korea, China, India, Pakistan, and Northern Ireland.
Kennedy's comments come at a time that Chevron's legal position has considerably weakened in the case, which was originally filed in 1993 in U.S. federal court before being shifted to Ecuador at the oil giant's request. The company not only lost before the appellate court in Ecuador, a U.S. federal appellate court recently stayed a case where it sought to block enforcement of the Ecuador judgment.
More recently, Chevron's lead outside law firm in the case – Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher – has been sanctioned by multiple courts for engaging in unethical litigation practices on behalf of Chevron as as part of a campaign to evade the Ecuador judgment.