More than 30 territories in the world tell their stories about impacts of Chevron activities
Environmental Justice Atlas
25 May 2015
This map shows 30+ cases of conflict worldwide due to Chevron activities. It is the result of a collaborative project between the research group at EJAtlas at ICTA – Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, A SUD – Ecologia e Cooperazione ONLUS y CDCA – Centro di Documentazione sui Conflitti Ambientali, Italy and the Unión de Afectados por Texaco – UDAPT, Ecuador. The Chevron Corporation constitutes an emblematic example of corporate violation of human rights against people on their lands; the company also uses the international architecture of impunity in order not to assume its responsibility for the damages caused. Moreover, according to a study published in Climatic Change, Chevron is the company which contaminated the planet most with its carbon dioxide emissions during 150 years. The aim of this map is therefore to show major conflicts concerning extractive activities led by the Chevron Corporation as well as peoples' resistance and struggles.
In a considerable number of cases registered, Chevron seeks to avoid liability for environmental damages. The international "polluter pays" principle has not been applied. On the contrary, it demonstrates the systematic impunity of transnational corporations. The 30+ cases introduced on the map show that there are common characteristics in many countries and that they are not isolated "negative externalities" but due to a systematic pattern of violations by the transnationals. Most of the conflicts are geographically situated in natural landscapes with an important biodiversity (e.g. Amazon, Rocky Mountains, Islas de San Andrés, Niger Delta). The company is responsible for several accidents having caused oil spills such as in the campo de Frade, Brazil in 2011 (more than 380.000 liters of oil in the sea). In November 2014, children of a school close to Karachaganak in Kazakhstan suffered from chronic intoxication.
There are scientific evidences of the health consequences of the local population (e.g. Tamboi Klai, Thailand). In some cases cancer rates have been rising as well as other as malnutrition, cases of depression and other mental illness. Other impacts are murder or rape as consequence of increasing violence in the territory.
Many socio-economic and cultural issues affect the local population who usually have few resources and are more dependent on agriculture, fishing, and local trade, which has been destroyed by the company (e.g. Cabunda Gulf, Angola; Nigeria). The threat to food sovereignty affects in particular the ancestral cultures of indigenous peoples (e.g. Canada, Ecuador). Tax evasion (e.g. Australia) also undermines the financial resources of the states intended to assume public services, for example in the education and health sectors.
The political lobbying of Chevron affects states' sovereignty and permits the company to develop polluting activities in compliance with their governments (e.g. Richmond EEUU). Also the lack of transparency of its financial transactions and its refusal to disclose contract conditions with the States (e.g. Argentina) does not allow population to evaluate the impact of these activities in their country.
The criminalization of the victims of Chevron and human rights violations are part of a strategy to attack people who defend their territory. That is how Chevron maintains its impunity at the expenses of the massive human rights violations (e.g. Riau, Indonesia).
The struggles of affected people still go on. Thanks to the experiences to date, many can mobilize different strategies to prevent such human rights violations. Legal cases in national Courts such as Ecuador, participation in global campaigns and the creation of platforms by affected people to exchange expertise, roadblocks (e.g. Unistoten, Canada), data base production and popular epidemiology (e.g. Kazakhstan), among others. Moreover, in many cases, as the report "Towards a Post-Oil Civilization" shows (published by EJOLT project) that the population refuses the extraction of fossil fuels as the only path to development, and calls for them to be left in the ground. Also they plead for a different kind of welfare and "buen vivir". The permanent refusal of Chevron Corporation to assume their liability has led the communities to initiate various judicial trials, to claim an appropriate compensation in order to remedy the damage. Ecuador's precedent has brought hope those who seek environmental justice. Although, despite 22 years of litigation in different countries, the communities could not obtain justice yet. No jurisdiction has been able to execute the historical sentence of 9.5 billions dollars issued by the Supreme Court of Ecuador. This map is the result of a convergence of fights of affected communities all over the world. It invites to continue cooperation to denounce human and environmental rights violations as well as to claim justice for collective damages caused to the people and lands.