A day after sounding the alarm at Chevron’s shareholder meeting, victims of oil company’s bad faith ask for global action
Amazon Defense Coalition
30 May 2013 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Karen Hinton at +1.703.798.3109
Geneva, Switzerland – Fresh from a day of confronting Chevron's CEO and board at their annual shareholders' meeting in San Ramon, CA, tomorrow representatives of Ecuador's community that won a $19 billion judgment against the U.S. oil company take their case to the United Nations.
Humberto Piaguaje, coordinator of the organization representing 30,000 indigenous people and subsistence farmers whose lands and streams were devastated by Chevron Corporation's deliberate dumping of chemicals and oil sludge will discuss their experience with attempting to enforce a judgment in their environmental lawsuit against the oil company for environmental damage and the resulting impact on the Ecuadorian population of his region. His presentation will be before member country representatives.
Pablo Fajardo of Quito, who leads the global litigation program for the Ecuadorians, and Piaguaje will encourage the world body to take a more active role in supporting successful court actions taken by citizens against transnational companies like Chevron. He will speak of the countless mechanisms used by the company to evade their debt and thwart the law in their Andean country, where the company lost both a trial and an appeal of a case begun 20 years earlier in New York.
The two Ecuadorians said the UN should develop and adopt an international convention so that companies such as Chevron, when they commit crimes against the population, can be sanctioned for violations of human rights and thus avoid impunity. On Thursday they made a similar appeal as part of a panel on business and human rights in the Human Rights Council of the UN, at the Seminar on Access to Justice organized by the International Commission of Jurists.
"The honest efforts of the Amazonian plaintiffs are constantly met by the bad faith of Chevron, who having promised U.S. courts it would abide by the decisions of the Ecuadorian courts, now hides behind corporate veils and other formalities to avoid pay what is owed. This attitude prolonsd the suffering of the victims of the oil company, and sets a dangerous precedent for future transnational polluters," said Fajardo.
Yesterday shareholders representing one third of the ownership of the $246 billion corporation based in California urged Chevron's board to accept a resolution simplifying the process to call special meetings to address emergency issues such as Chevron's growing losses in the Ecuador case. With asset attachment litigation already underway in Argentina, Brazil and Canada, shareholder representatives said Chevron's leadership needed to change course and meet and settle with the Ecuadorians, to avoid further losses. Although opposed by the Chevron board, the resolution received more votes than any other shareholder resolution offered by outsiders.
Chevron was found liable in 2011 for the negligence of Texaco, an oil company it acquired in 2002, for polluting the more than 480 thousand hectares of land in the Ecuadorian Amazon jungle. The court in Ecuador found that the company dumped 16 billion gallons of toxic water into the estuaries and rivers, poured 650 thousand barrels of crude, built more than 880 waste pits without any protective lining and destroyed the health and livelihood of the close=by communities.
In this long trial, the plaintiffs proved the existence of environmental damage and impact on the health and livelihoods of the population affected with high levels of pollution-related diseases as well as human rights violations and collective displacement of five indigenous nationalities that live in the area.
Although lawyers for Texaco – now Chevron – promised a U.S. court that it would abide by the findings in Ecuador of the court's agreement to move the case to South America, Chevron has spent millions of dollars avoiding the judgment and engaging in continuous litigation aimed at thwarting or overturning the decision in Ecuador. It has made payments to political figures and dangled huge investment promises to get government officials to block the award, so far without success.