Puerto Rican band Calle 13 is the latest to stand up against Chevron’s toxic legacy in the Ecuadorian Amazon. On Saturday, the duo joined President Rafael Correa’s campaign “The Dirty Hand of Chevron,” posing with their hands covered in oil waste at the corporation’s former drill site Aguarico 4.
“It’s horrible, it’s the first time that I am seeing with my own eyes, smelling and experiencing this type of pollution,” said the singer René Pérez (Résidente).
The campaign seeks to hold Chevron responsible for improperly disposing more than 18 billion gallons of production wastes during its time of operation in Ecuador’s Oriente region (1964-1992).
According to plaintiffs representing nearly 30,000 Ecuadorians, Chevron’s production pools have bled benzene, cadmium, chromium, mercury, and a host more poisons into their land and water, resulting in heightened risk to disease and decreased farm productivity. For more than 20 years they have tried to get Chevron to clean up the mess.
In February 2011, Ecuadorian judge Nicolás Zambrano charged Chevron $18.2 billion in reparations. As a response, Chevron filed a lawsuit against American Steven Donziger who has represented the plaintiffs.
A US Federal Court in March 2014 found Donziger guilty of fraud under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), blocking the plaintiffs from collecting the award. Donziger is now seeking Chevron’s assets in Ontario, but in the most recent twist in the legal saga, the Supreme Court of Canada has decided to hear Chevron’s appeal to block the plaintiffs from pursuing their case.
“Their millions cannot cover up the truth,” said Correa. “Everyone is invited to go to many wells, but the easiest to access [is] Aguarico, and after 30 years since Texaco (today Chevron) left these pools, you will still see Chevron’s Dirty Hand.”
Timeline: Chevron-Texaco and Ecuador
1964: Texas Petroleum and Gulf Ecuatoriana Consortium is formed; exploration concession is signed
1971-1989: Texaco produces oil in the Ecuadorian Amazon
1972: Trans-Ecuadorian pipeline is completed
1992: Consortium contract expires; PetroEcuador assumes 100% ownership of Consortium
1993: 74 Ecuadorian plaintiffs (representing more than 30,000 individuals residing in the country’s Oriente region) file class action suit against Texaco in New York
1995/1996: Texaco begins a $40 million remediation program in Ecuadorian Amazon
1998: Ecuadorian government and PetroEcuador sign “Act of Final Liberation of Claims and Equipment Delivery,” recognizing that Texaco fulfilled its remediation obligations and releasing Texaco from current and future liability
2001: Chevron acquires Texaco; US Second Circuit of Appeals decides that Aguinda case should be heard in Ecuador
2003: Ecuadorian plaintiffs file suit in Ecuador
2007: Ecuador court appoints Richard Cabrera to determine damages in the Oriente and the kind of remediation necessary
2008: Cabrera assesses damages at $16.3 billion, later revised to $27.3 billion; Ecuadorian lawyers Pablo Fajardo and Luis Yanza win Goldman Environmental Prize
2009: Joe Berlinger’s documentary “Crude” is released, telling the story of the Ecuadorian plaintiffs’ lawsuit against Chevron
2010: New York court grants Chevron’s request for 600 hours of outtake footage from the film “Crude”
2011: Ecuadorian court charges Chevron $18.2 billion in reparations; Chevron seeks to overturn the judgment by filing a lawsuit in US Federal Court under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) against Steven Donziger, the American lawyer representing the Ecuadorian plaintiffs
2012: Chevron issues subpoenas to Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft in connection to its RICO case, seeking nine years of IP and usage information about the holders of more than 100 email accounts belonging to activists, attorneys, journalists, and others
2013: Stratus Consulting retracts its scientific research that was used in the Cabrera report; plaintiffs argue that Chevron pressured Stratus to disavow its work for dismissal of legal claims that the corporation leveled at the firm
March 2014: US District Court for the Southern District of New York rules RICO case in favor of Chevron, blocking collection of the award; Steven Donziger appeals
April 2014: Supreme Court of Canada decides to hear Chevron’s appeal of a lower-court decision that allowed Ecuadorian plaintiffs to pursue case in Ontario; Chevron withdraws subpoenas issued to Google and Yahoo!