Chevron – oil – corruption – the American way…
So, about twenty years ago Chevron Oil went into the rainforest of Ecuador to drill for oil. Over the course of ten years they made no bones, nor did they try to hide, the fact that they were not following any environmental protections. Nor did they think they had to. The Ecuadorian government was so uselessly corrupt at the time that a multitude of oil companies (including Canadian companies) were basically raping and pillaging the Ecuadorian rainforest. I only knew of this, at the time, because an Ecuadorian friend of mine – whom I had known since university – was back in Ecuador and was part of the team trying to get the word out to the world about what Chevron (the worst perpetrator) and the rest of them were doing to the rainforest.
Now Ecuador doesn’t just have any rainforest. It has some of the most bio-diverse rainforest that are left in the world. One square acre of Ecuadorian rainforest has more species of trees than all the species of trees in the forests of Canada combined.
Chevron ultimately polluted 10 million acres of rainforest swamplands. Chevron admits that it did this. Lawyers in Ecuador (with the financial and legal support of the international community) take Chevron to court and after ten years – with Chevron losing the court decision at every level – the case makes its way to the Ecuadorian Supreme Court – where Chevron again loses and is fined just over $9 billion.
By now, there is a new government in Ecuador and the people of Ecuador have come to realize what a treasure their rainforest is, and how corrupt their former government and Chevron had been.
Chevron then states that because it is an American company it will not recognize the Ecuadorian Supreme Court decision. The lawyers bring the case to America where it is heard in a New York court – and yesterday – the American judge threw the case out. Not because Ecuador had no case, but because – in his decision – the judge deemed that the American lawyers assisting the rainforest people who had initially brought the case to court, had been “too aggressive” in their pursuit of this case.
What the fuck does that even mean?
The judge stated that the Ecuadorian decision had been obtained by “wrongful and corrupt” means.
In effect, he blamed the American lawyer (specifically Steven Donziger) – who helped bring Chevron to court for polluting 10 million acres of rainforest – to which Chevron admits and has done nothing to rectify – the judge blamed the lawyers who brought the lawsuit against Chevron as being corrupt, inventing evidence, and he therefore nullified the entire case against Chevron.
Chevron called the ruling a “resounding victory” for Chevron and its stockholders. “It confirms that the Ecuadorean judgment against Chevron is a fraud and the product of a criminal enterprise,” the company said.
“Meanwhile, Han Shan, U.S. spokesman for the Lago Agrio Plaintiffs in Ecuador, said after the ruling: “While the Ecuadoreans respect the rule of law in all countries, they do not accept this court’s jurisdiction nor this ruling. The affected communities long ago gave up hope that a U.S. court would provide them relief from Chevron’s contamination, which has taken their loved ones, poisoned their lands, and imperiled their cultures.” (Wall Street Journal – http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2014/03/04/what-you-should-know-about-the-chevron-decision/)
If ever there is a time I want to punch a hole in the wall it is at times like these.