Abby Martin uncovers the oil giant's Amazon "kill zone" to check in on a cleanup that never happened
The Empire Files
21 August 2016
In 1993, a group of 30,000 Indigenous villagers from the Ecuadorian Amazon organized the Union of People Affected by Texaco, or UDAPT. Together they filed a class action lawsuit against Chevron for its harmful behavior, including spilling 60 billion liters of toxic water into the Amazon.
Lawyer Pablo Fajardo, has dedicated over 22 years of his life working with the UDAPT toward "a dream of obtaining justice," against one of the world's richest corporations in the world's most significant environmental legal case.
"There is also a dream of showing the world that the poor—Indigenous, campesinos, humble, excluded, mistreated and forgotten people of the world—when united they are capable of achieving things that were seemingly impossible," Fajardo told The Empire Files in Quito.
"We can't leave this battle halfway through, we have to make it to the end and make Chevron pay for the crime committed in our country and on our planet"
Fajardo said that the damage is not only environmental but also social, cultural, economics and religion and importantly is was not an accident, but rather a "systematic operation designed by the company to increase their profits by decreasing their investment."
Chevron tried to convince the court that their harmful practices did not cause any health issues, by paying experts to support their innocence. With their team of well paid lawyers and experts they dragged the case out, which in turn stretched the economically weak UDAPT.
Fajardo estimates that Chevron has paid nearly US$2 billion legally defending themselves. And that the case is not just important to Chevron, but also to other corporations that are immune from being held accountable for their environmental neglect.
Chevron has also undertaken "judicial terrorism" against the UDAPT through numerous counter lawsuits. Fajardo also explained that Chevron had a vested interest in global conflict as a pretext for the cheap exploitation of oil.
Chevron has a dark past as the first U.S. oil company to support and sell oil to Spain's fascist dictator Francisco Franco, as well as Mussolini in Italy and Hitler in Nazi Germany.
Chevron also exploited oil reserves in developing countries, particularly in Latin America but also in Niger and Burma.
In 2011, Chevron was found guilty and ordered to pay US$9.6 billion. It was the first time an Indigenous group has successfully sued an oil company.
Chevron refused to pay, pulling operations out of Ecuador and hiding their assets in other parts of the world, making it difficult for victims to gain compensation. Numerous witness and supporters were paid by Chevron to influence legal outcomes, allowing them to evade justice.