OPEN LETTER ABOUT CHEVRON
October 15, 2015
This communication is in response to Chevron Corporation’s letter -Chevron Responds-, published in the Financial Post on October 7, 2015, to address the groundless statements and profoundly incorrect assertions made against the government of Ecuador in the aforementioned letter.
Prior to clarifying the reality behind Chevron Corporation’s skillful manipulation of the truth as it relates to this case, allow me to provide some historical facts:
-Back in 1973, Texaco Petroleum Company (now Chevron Corporation as per the merge with Texaco on October 9, 2001) engaged in drilling operations that resulted in contamination of the rainforest environment in Ecuador;
-Nearly 16 billion gallons of toxic formation waters were discharged into waterways, where Ecuadorian communities relied for their drinking, bathing and fishing;
-The affected villagers (Plaintiffs) pursued remediation and filed their claims against Texaco in a U.S. federal court;
-Texaco and then Chevron fought for almost 10 years to move the matter to Ecuador. It filed 14 affidavits before a U.S. Judge praising the fairness of Ecuador´s courts and promising to accept its jurisdiction;
-After the Plaintiffs re-filed their case in a Lago Agrio Court in Ecuador in 2003, Chevron immediately tried to pressure the Ecuadorian government to intervene and shut down the case;
-When it became clear that the government — a nonparty in the underlying litigation — would not intervene, Chevron sought to drag the Republic of Ecuador into an International Arbitration Court. By doing so, Chevron has sought to make Ecuador their “insurance policy”, and endorse the judgement over to the country (and all its citizens), should its legal strategies against the Plaintiffs fail;
-The proceedings before the Lago Agrio Court lasted nearly eight years, followed by another two years of appellate trials. In 2013, the Ecuadorian National Court of Justice (Ecuador’s equivalent to the Supreme Court), upheld Chevron’s responsibility and ordered the payment of $ 9.5 billion, as remediation for the ecological and humanitarian disaster which continues to threaten the well-being of tens of thousands of people in the Amazon rainforest. The matter is currently before the Ecuadorian Constitutional Court.
Chevron’s accusation related to the Ecuadorian government’s support for a fraudulent lawsuit is patently untrue. However, Chevron chooses to continue attacking the government of Ecuador as part of a well-orchestrated effort to endorse any of their damages to a third party, in this case, the people of Ecuador. In making this unfounded argument, Chevron ignores its own many successes in Ecuador’s highly competent and independent judiciary system. Furthermore, the Ecuadorian government’s commitment to the rule of law and the recent judiciary reforms guarantee the legal proceedings to take place without interference.
With the intention of protecting the rights and well-being of all citizens, Ecuador has instituted a number of important legal and environmental reforms, which include being the first country in the world to include the Rights of Nature in our Constitution. This will ensure that all actors-- including government entities, private corporations, and individuals-- respect these rights, for the benefit of all mankind.
Chevron decontextualizes in its letter the role of the Ecuadorian government in the case. Faced with Chevron’s skillful and well-funded smear campaign, which seeks to discredit Ecuador in all media, the government has called upon the international community, states, journalists and human rights defenders, to visit the country, and see the truth about Chevron's responsibility in polluting of the Amazon rainforest. In fact, Chevron pretends to build a case based on half-truths and facts deliberately manipulated and taken out of context.
It is also important to note that Chevron has erroneously argued that “Ecuador has repeatedly used images of oil spills caused by the state-owned oil company, Petroecuador, claiming they are attributable to Chevron…”. This proposition has been proven false and is simply another attempt by the corporation to distort the truth.
Finally, I would like to emphasize that Chevron’s strategy, is designed to evade an order from the highest court in its voluntary chosen forum of Ecuador, and endorse its responsibility to the Ecuadorian people. In this intention, Chevron repeats its carefully selected nomenclature time and again— “ghostwriting,” “bribery,” “collusion” — apparently based on the myth that repeating something enough times, will make it true.
We understand Chevron is one of the largest for-profit companies on earth, and an extremely powerful organization. However, we will nonetheless continue to ask they accept their responsibility for the damages caused to Ecuador and to our people, and set aside their “fight until hell freezes over, and then skate it out on the ice” mentality in favor of the rule of law, and basic human decency.
I will conclude this communication by exhorting the international community to join us in placing environmental and social justice as a priority for the greater good of both humanity and Mother Earth.
Ambassador of the Republic of Ecuador to Canada