Canadian judge eliminates the defenses Chevron used to avoid recognition of the Ecuadorian sentence.
The Toronto Court judge who heard the case in Canada accepted a request by UDAPT (Unión de Afectados por Texaco), the Ecuadorian plaintiffs, in which they asked he deny Chevron the possibility of re-litigating all the arguments previously resolved by the Ecuadorian Courts. The judge ruled in favor of those affected.
With this pronouncement the UDAPT, members of indigenous communities of Ecuador, advance with their iconic case, already enduring over 23 years of litigation. The Canadian Court decision may be interpreted, says Pablo Fajardo, the attorney of the Ecuadorian affected people, as “an acceptance by the judge of the validity of the sentence issued by the Ecuadorian Courts”. This decision also stops Chevron from causing unnecessary delays. Fajardo acknowledged that the judge did accept the argument presented by the oil company’s lawyers that Chevron Canada and Chevron Corporation are different companies. However, Fajardo expects this decision to be appealed and thinks “it will surely be reversed.”
After the long 23 years of lawsuits in the United States and Ecuador, UDAPT has now won a decision that condemns the oil company to pay more than 9.5 billion dollars, which must be invested to repair the contaminated areas. The contaminated areas encompass more than 450,000 hectares.
The earlier final decision of the Ecuador and National Court of Justice has not been complied with by Chevron. Instead, Chevron withdrew all of its assets in Ecuador, and the transnational company systematically avoided payment of the judgment. Chevron made use of the structure of impunity that protects crimes committed by transnational corporations. Despite Chevron’s several attempts to avoid trial in Canada, arguing that the country’s justice system is not competent to hear the case, the Supreme Court began the trial, which is still in its first phases. It is expected that the Canadian Court will set a schedule for the appearance of members and witnesses of the communities, as well as of the oil company, to continue the process.