What Happened Next in Ecuador?

Remember the documentary Crude? Let’s find out how the story of the Amazon people against Chevron continued.

For those who are not familiar with the case: Chevron (early known as Texaco) used horrific practices to extract oil in Ecuador. For over three decades, their presence in the Ecuadorian Amazon has brought not only unimaginable amounts of pollution but also death through cancer and poisoning to many indigenous people. On the page Chevron in Ecuador, you can find details of what happened in the Amazon in the name of oil and how the people there are still suffering today.

Finally, as the story is told in the documentary, a couple of brave men (in the name of the Amazon people) try to sue Chevron for what it has done. Unfortunately, even if the case clearly shows the guilt of Chevron, the company constantly manages to use filthy tecniques to skirt the fine they ought to pay. The Miami Herald writes: “The judgment — thought to be one of the largest environmental verdicts in history — was doubled from $9 billion as Chevron has refused to offer a public apology.” The litigation has been going on for 19 years so far. 

Now, finally we have some good news. The San Francisco Chronicle writes on January 5 that the appeal court in Ecuador has upheld last year’s judgement. “The ruling, issued Tuesday by a three-judge panel, brings Chevron’s opponents in the hard-fought lawsuit one step closer to enforcing the judgment and collecting the money, which would pay for environmental cleanup and health programs.” It is however far from over. Since Chevron is no longer active in Ecuador, their plaintiffs must seek to enforce the judgment in another country.

Maybe Brazil is an option. The Miami Herald knows: “Chevron is facing billions of dollars in fines for an oil spill off the coast of Brazil. It’s also being accused of lying about the size of the accident.”

You can visit the Chevron page to find out how for them it is simply a big conspiration of the Ecuatorian people against the company. In the meantime they are already caught up in another court case, this time with the maker of Crude, Joe Berlinger.

Meanwhile, the world is helping out to keep more of this kind of disasters from happening. The Guardian published in December an article about the worldwide trial to pay Ecuador not to extract oil: “According to the UN, the “crowdfunding” initiative had last night raised $116m (£75m), enough to temporarily halt the exploitation of the 722 square miles of “core” Amazonian rainforest known as Yasuní national park in Ecuador.”
It is undoubtably a place worth protecting: “The park, which is home to two tribes of uncontacted Indians, is thought to have more mammal, bird, amphibian and plant species than any other spot on earth.” Extracting oil in that region would not only mean destroying it, but also bringing another wave of pollution to the area. Besides, it would result in the “release of 400m tonnes of CO2″.
Where did the money come from? “Regional governments in France and Belgium offered millions of dollars – with $2m alone from the Belgian region of Wallonia. A New York investment banker donated her annual salary and Bo Derek, Leonardo DiCaprio, Edward Norton and Al Gore all contributed” as well as some other European and non-European countries.
Maybe this is a way to protect important places also in the future? Let’s see! The Guardian writes that “Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon and other countries with oil reserves, have investigated the possibility of setting up similar schemes as an alternative to traditional aid.”
Picture by Rainforest Action Network, thanks.

6 thoughts on “What Happened Next in Ecuador?

  1. When I watch documentaries, or even read articles about environmental law suits, scandals, and the like, I often forget to check on what the outcome of the event was (if any), or just check the status on the problem at hand.

    Thanks for the Ecuador update, and the friendly reminder (for me at least) to keep current on the status of issues that may have fallen out of the news spotlight, but that are still very important to keep track of!

    • The same happens to me often, it’s good to go back and see what happend next, especially when remembering the angry feeling you got when you first watched / read about the cause. Thanks for stepping by 🙂

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