Chevron in Ecuador

The archive of the Clean Up Ecuador campaign website

Reaction of Ecuadorian Plaintiffs in Chevron Case to Ruling in Argentina

Amazon Defense Coalition

Amazon Defense Coalition
Contact: Karen Hinton at +1.703.798.3109

We have had a temporary setback in Argentina. Their Supreme Court ruled last night, in essence, that the embargo there was premature because the subsidiaries of Chevron in Argentina were not heard in the action in Ecuador that held that the subsidiaries were subject to the embargo, and thus were denied due process – a principle that triggers public policy concerns in Argentina. This view is consistent with the argument by the Procuradora (Attorney General) in her opinion last week.

It does not mean that the assets cannot eventually be attached to resolve the trial judgment from Ecuador. Rather, the court is saying that, thus far at least, the affected Chevron holdings in Argentina were not heard in Ecuador prior to being affected by the embargo that issued out of Ecuador. So it slows the process down somewhat in Argentina, releasing the embargoed assets until there is “due process” for the interests affected by the attachment. It is a complication but not a defeat. In the meantime, we continue forward with the recognition action against Chevron Corp. there.

Enrique Bruchou, who led the litigation in Argentina for the Ecuadorians who successfully sued for remediation and damages for Chevron's unprecedented contamination of the rain forest communities in Ecuador's northern region, said:

The Court, with a dissenting opinion of senior justice Carlos S. Fayt, determined that the freeze order was premature because the affected subsidiaries had not participated in the judicial process in Ecuador.

We respectfully disagree with the majority opinion because, as the trial court, a unanimous Court of Appeals, and especially Dr. Fayt in his dissent all appreciated, the subsidiaries do have the right to be heard in Ecuador under Article 5 of the Interamerican Convention for the Execution of Preventive Measures (Treaty). In this sense, the Court's opinion runs contrary to the international regime contemplated in the Treaty, which the Republic of Argentina has the obligation to follow.

In the already initiated recognition proceeding in Argentina, and through all legal means available, we will defend the Ecuadorian plaintiffs' right to obtain relief from Chevron and its subsidiaries in Argentina, who have not been affected in the slightest by the Court's judgment.

In our opinion, basic principles of justice are infringed when tribunals accept Chevron's efforts to avoid paying a judgment caused by one of the worst environmental catastrophes in history by shielding its subsidiaries from responsibility.

Chevron Corp operates as an integral entity through subsidiaries around the world, and generates absolutely no income separate from the dividends it receives from such subsidiaries. The billions of dollars that Chevron pays its shareholders annually derive wholly from its subsidiaries around the world, including its 100% owned Argentine subs.

In Ecuador, the lead attorney for the Lago Agrio plaintiffs in the case that they won in 2011, Pablo Fajardo, said that the decision does not interfere in any way in the cause for justice Argentina has recognized by applying the sentence dictated by the Ecuadorian Provincial Court of Sucumbios, and instead provides an opportunity to verify that Chevron subsidiaries, in this case in Argentina and wholly owned by Chevron Corporation, are within the intended scope of the decision in Ecuador.