Ecuadorean Communities to New Chevron CEO: "We Don't Want to Continue Dying from Cancer"
In New Video, affected Ecuadoreans urge John Watson to Address the Company's Damage in the Amazon
Corresponding Global Petition Demands Immediate Action
13 January 2010 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Karen Hinton at +1.703.798.3109
San Francisco, CA – On Wednesday January 13th, just days into John Watson's tenure as the new Chairman and CEO of Chevron Corporation, Amazon Watch's Clean Up Ecuador Campaign is launching a global petition to Mr. Watson, with an accompanying video-message.
The video and petition ask John Watson to take a new approach as CEO and rectify the human rights and environmental disaster experts call the "Amazon Chernobyl." In the video, community members appeal directly to Watson to visit Ecuador and address the oil company's toxic legacy.
"Watson has inherited the helm of a company whose image and reputational capital has taken a big hit, not to mention an investor scare of a potential $27 billion judgment. Communities in Ecuador are looking to him to show moral courage and business leadership and end the suffering of thousands of people," said Mitch Anderson of Amazon Watch. "In the interest of rainforest residents and his own shareholders, we hope Watson doesn't squander this opportunity to take the company in a new direction."
Chevron has waged an aggressive lobbying and PR campaign to evade responsibility, and says it won't pay even if ordered to in court. A company spokesman has promised a "lifetime of litigation."
Emergildo Criollo, a leader from the Cofan tribe, says in the video, "We don't want to continue dying from cancer." Criollo lost two sons to fatal illnesses after coming into contact with toxic waste water dumped into Amazon waterways by Texaco. Other community members ask Watson to "do whatever it takes… To clean up the areas affected by your company."
Servio Curipoma, a farm worker or campesino from the village of San Carlos in the Ecuadorian Amazon, has suffered enormously due to oil contamination caused by Texaco, which Chevron absorbed in 2001. Servio's farm remains inundated with crude. His father died of cancer on the very same day that his son was born, and over time, he also lost his mother. Servio believes he may have developed cancer himself, but is afraid to get tested.
Around the contaminated region, an area roughly the size of Rhode Island, there are thousands more cases like Servio's. Along with 30,000 other indigenous people and campesinos, Servio is a plaintiff in the landmark lawsuit against Chevron, demanding clean-up of the contamination, and redress for the resulting epidemic of cancer, birth defects, and premature deaths.
The landmark litigation is currently coming to a close in Ecuadorean courts, with a decision expected in the first half of 2010.