Ecuador: How an Oil Giant Decimates a People
Chevron now faces an $18 billion court judgment for causing it. Instead of remediating his company’s contamination, Chevron CEO John Watson has squandered hundreds of millions of dollars of shareholder money in an increasingly futile attempt to evade responsibility for the consequences of this man-made catastrophe.
Representatives of the rainforest communities that won the judgment reveals in graphic and shocking detail how Chevron intentionally contaminated the rainforest knowing it likely would cause death and destruction to thousands of people.
From 1964 to 1990, the oil giant (operating under the Texaco brand) admitted that it deliberately dumped 16-18 billion gallons of toxic waste water into rivers and streams relied on by local inhabitants for their drinking water.
The waste water included benzene, a known human carcinogen, as well as other toxic chemicals and heavy metals, according to evidence before the Ecuador court.
Chevron in the 1970s and 1980s gouged over 900 unlined waste pits from Ecuador’s jungle floor to store the oil and toxic water left after drilling. Today, the contents of these enormous pits continue to flow via Chevron’s pipes into the soils and streams of the forest, poisoning residents and their food supply.
They defrauded Ecuador’s court system during an eight-year trial by using bogus laboratory teststo undercount toxins in the soil.
“These people are invisible to Chevron CEO John Watson as he continues to play games with the law, bringing harm both to his company’s shareholders and to the foreign policy interests of the United States in Latin America,” said Karen Hinton, the U.S. spokesperson for the Ecuadorian communities.
Meanwhile, the indigenous people of the rainforest are forced to drink water out of poisoned streams. The video shows a little girl using a stick to twirl a gob of oily waste like a ribbon of taffy. In other shots, water glistens with the sickly greens and blues of oil as people swim and wash.
Chevron, the local residents say on the video, told them the oil contained “vitamins and minerals” and was good for them.
Source: Amazon Defense Coalition
From Survival Int’l
Sarayaku v. Ecuador was brought against state oil company PetroEcuador after it signed an agreement with a consortium of foreign firms to explore for oil in the southern Ecuadorian Amazon.
Although the land belongs to the Kichwa, they were not consulted prior to exploratory work that has left hundreds of undetonated explosives underground, and destroyed forests and waterways used by the Indians.
On Wednesday the court ordered the government to pay damages to the Kichwa, and clear explosives from the area.
Ecuador ratified ILO Convention 169 in 1998, which outlines the government’s duty to consult with indigenous peoples prior to any project that could affect them or their land.
Humberto Cholango, leader of Ecuador’s Indian organization CONAIE, said, ‘This is a victory for all people and all nations of Ecuador and Latin America… we will continue to stand up for indigenous rights in the face of the threat of oil and mining companies that favour capital over human and environmental rights’.