Amazon Defense Coalition
18 September 2017 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Karen Hinton at +1.703.798.3109
Amsterdam – One of the founders of the legendary environmental organization Greenpeace has blasted Chevron and its high-priced team of corporate lawyers for using "intimidation" tactics to evade responsibility for committing some of the world's "worst ecological crimes" in Ecuador's Amazon region.
Rex Weyler – a Canadian resident and author who with friends in Vancouver founded Greenpeace International in the early 1970s – published a blog on the Greenpeace site in support of the Ecuadorian indigenous and farmer communities who won a historic $9.5 billion environmental judgment against the oil giant. Chevron has vowed never to pay the judgment and company officials have brazenly threatened the indigenous groups with a "lifetime of litigation" if they persist.
After describing Chevron's dumping of billions of gallons of oil waste in Ecuador as probably "the worst oil-related catastrophe on earth", Weyler lashed out at the company for trying to delay resolution of the case for 24 years.
"This tragic story reveals almost unthinkable corporate irresponsibility, intimidation, and arrogance, not just by Chevron executives, but by their 60 law firms, 2,000 lawyers and paralegals, six public relations firms, squads of private investigators, thugs and bribed witnesses, and at least one severely compromised U.S. judge," he wrote. "Chevron has probably spent more money trying to weasel out of this case than any corporation in world history."
"If we sometimes wonder why significant ecological progress appears so monumentally difficult, this blood-curdling case will give us some clues," he added.
He also said Chevron's predecessor company Texaco in Ecuador "perpetrated some of the most horrendous ecological crimes in history" against the indigenous Cofan, Siona, Secoya, Quichua and Huaorani peoples. Texaco operated in Ecuador from 1964 to 1992, when it abandoned the country after taking out an estimated $25 billion in profits. Texaco then merged with Chevron.
Citing evidence from the court case, Weyler wrote that Chevron/Texaco "dumped some 16 billion gallons of wastewater laced with carcinogens into rivers and streams. The company abandoned hundreds of waste pits in the rainforest – containing toxic oil sludge, in violation of basic industry standards. The indigenous inhabitants were left with poisoned land, food supply, and drinking water. The region's river sediment remains contaminated with heavy metals and chemical toxins."
Weyler also explained how Chevron tried to "hide its crimes" by destroying internal company records documenting many oil spills in its area of operations.
He then blasted Chevron for hiring a "notorious" New York law firm, Gibson Dunn, to fabricate a story of judicial bribery in Ecuador to evade the judgment. Chevron itself and Gibson Dunn lawyers bribed a witness with a $2 million payment to make up the story.
The Ecuadorians have filed an action to enforce their judgment against Chevron's assets in Canada, where they already have received the unanimous backing of the country's Supreme Court. The next court hearing in the Canadian enforcement action is Oct. 10 in Toronto.
Chevron has an estimated $15 to $25 billion of assets in Canada, or more than enough to pay the full amount of the Ecuador judgment. The original $9.5 billion judgment is now worth $12 billion with accrued interest under Canadian law.
Weyler warned his colleagues in the environmental and social justice movements: "Human rights advocates the world over need to carefully study Chevron's playbook of spending massively to buy witnesses against its adversaries to evade paying compensation to the people it harmed. If U.S. courts refuse to provide the Ecuadorians a fair hearing, then Canada's courts must do so for the sake of corporate accountability, universal principles of justice, and Indigenous rights."