Pablo Fajardo: Lawyer of the people and the Amazon

15 August 2019; originally published 12 June 2019 in Vatican News

Authors: Manuel Cubías – Jean Charles Putzolu

Below follows an unofficial translation:

Transnational companies have often shown their contempt for the so-called Third World countries by plundering their resources. The struggles of peasants and indigenous people against these giants seem destined to fail. Not to fight would be to accept collective suicide.

The words poverty, struggle and commitment are a fundamental part of Latin American history. Many men and women have believed in them and have given their lives day by day, or definitively, to make them a reality in their countries or in their local communities.

Pablo Fajardo is one such case. A man who came from the periphery of Ecuadorian society and who wanted to serve the inhabitants of the social margins of his country.

He came to live in the middle of the world, in Ecuador. It is a South American country with 31 active volcanoes and nearly 17 million inhabitants.

Since his youth, the struggle for the defense of indigenous peoples has been present in the life of Pablo Fajardo. In 2011, together with the Union of People Affected by Texaco (UDAPT), an institution that brings together more than 30,000 people of indigenous and peasant origin, they obtained a ruling in their favor for 9,500 million dollars for social and environmental reparation.

The Texaco transnational left Ecuador and has not complied, not even today, with the legal ruling of the Sucumbíos Court. What is still present is the indelible imprint of death and contamination.

Pablo Fajardo nos cuenta su historia (tells us his story)

The mark of origin

In Pablo Fajardo’s own words:

„I was born on the Ecuadorian coast, in El Carmen, Manabí. We lived in the countryside, my family lived in extreme poverty. Everything we produced and ate was natural. We produced it with our labor. We ate what my father and my brothers produced.

Poverty drove us north to the province of Esmeraldas, where we were looking for better living conditions. After a few years, we migrated to the Amazon region. First it was my brothers, then my parents and me with them.

When we arrived in the Amazon, I experienced a strong contrast, because I was faced with two realities: one was the Amazon full of spirits, whispers, smells and tastes, full of heat, water, insects and animals, in short, full of life. The other Amazon was the polluted one, which had difficulties, which died.

Alongside these two contrasts were the indigenous peoples, the original peoples, who have lived here for thousands of years and whose relationship with nature, with water, with the air, with animals is much deeper. I came across the spirituality of the jungle, the trees. This is a much deeper experience. These are the memories I have of what life was. What I remember.

I am the fifth of ten siblings. My father is a peasant, now 91 years old. He never learned to read or write. I am fortunate because he is still alive. My mother is 84 years old, she also lives and is a peasant. She can only read and write a little. We all work for a living. None of my siblings managed to study at university. Unfortunately, some only managed to finish high school, others didn’t even do that. This happened for economic reasons. Because of poverty. She was the one who was determining who could and couldn’t study.

In my case, I was able to study at the university and graduate because I could count on the support of the people of my community, with the support of the Capuchin Franciscan Fathers and several villages that supported me so that I could study.

There’s one important thing I want to tell you. My father never learned to read or write. Written documents were of no value to him. Courage is given by the word. He said that documents can be broken, but that the given word cannot be broken. He saw this at every moment: when they wanted to do something, a job, they always made word agreements.

In today’s world, many things have changed: if it is not a written document, it is not valid. It would be nice if we could go back to that, so that the word really has its value and is respected by everyone!“

For further reading, in Spanish, please link here.

Call to action!

The Crowd vs. Chevron Oil Spill in Ecuador

Amazon people want access to justice in the Supreme Court of Canada for the reparation of their lands. Read more…

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Do you want to help by either donating (see above) or becoming an online activist (here)?

We welcome the opportunity to help you. On our Be The Difference page, after the philosophy of Mohandas Gandhi, we enable your creative ideas and work to be showcased to help this case.

Share your art and inspirations to make the world a better place for all of us!

Link to UDAPT.org website.

Students of the Arts HKU Explain on Anti-Chevron Day: Oil in Your Food, Water and Lands Was and Will Never Be Normal

Between 1964 and 1990 oil giant Chevron (formerly Texaco) contributed to one of the biggest environmental disasters in the history. A gigantic oil spill contaminated an area of 4,800 square kilometres of the Amazonian rainforest in Ecuador. It destroyed the lands of 30,000 indigenous people and farmers, and the biodiversity in the area. For over 25 years now, they fight a difficult legal battle against Chevron to achieve justice.

25-Year Fight for Legal Justice

In 1993 the 30,000 peasants and indigenous people joined forces in UDAPT (Spanish Acronym of ‘la Unión de Afectados y Afectadas por las Operaciones Petroleras de Texaco’). This organization started litigation to have Chevron (formerly Texaco) pay to create health programs for the affected peoples and to restore the lands and water. The Ecuador National Court ordered Chevron to pay 9.5 billion dollars, but they refused. Instead, Chevron left with all its assets. That is why the plaintiffs have to go abroad to achieve justice, where the legal road is long and exhausting. 

Art Students Take Action 

Students from the University of the Arts Utrecht took action. They made a short film to create awareness of the situation. To help people to relate to the situation in Ecuador, they show an average European family living in an oil contaminated home and neighborhood.

One of the students, Thomas Paschenegger said: “We are honored to contribute to this important legal battle for environmental and social justice in Ecuador. It would be fantastic if the film creates more awareness and support of the situation of the UDAPT people, and informs people about the crimes committed by Chevron.”

Creating Awareness

The assignment of this film came from The Crowd Versus. The Crowd Versus is supporting the case of UDAPT against Chevron since 2014.

According to Marco Witschge, platform co-lead: “We are constantly looking for new ways to create awareness and donations for this case. The students of the HKU did a fantastic job. This case is not only of great importance for the people in Ecuador, but also for the world. It will better protect our human rights and the rights of nature, and it shows irresponsible corporations that the law applies to all.” 

Want to help? Our Call To Action:

  1. Whatever you like to do, photography, vlog, draw a great cartoon, or cook to create your own fundraising event, know that we would love to enlarge the footprint of your message. You can do more for the indigenous people and farmers of Ecuador by posting your own content and picking the Chevron v. Ecuador case to support with your (artistic) work here.
  2. Donate here to make a difference.

Together we create more awareness for their cause and funding, a win-win situation for both you and the UDAPT nonprofit.

The Crowd Versus Chevron Oil Spill

We Support the People of Ecuador

We, the students of the HKU (University of the Arts Utrecht), are working on a special project to support the case ‚The Crowd vs. Chevron oil spill in Ecuador.‘

We made a substance that looks like oil and it works!

Soon you will discover what it’s for…

students of the HKU
HKU student busy developing an oil-like substance

Check below for more information about the Chevron v. Ecuador case:

The Crowd vs. Chevron Erdölverschmutzung in Ecuador

Wir haben €13,901.09 des €15,000.00 gesammelt, das wir für diesen Fall sammeln möchten!
The Crowd klagt Die Klage der Amazonas-Bewohner gegen Chevron wirft zwei grundlegende Fragen auf, die das kanadische Gericht zu entscheiden hat: (1) Soll die Justiz den Menschenrechten Vorrang vor den Interessen transnationaler Unternehmen…

Canadian Supreme Court denies justice to Indigenous Ecuadorians

Filed in Environmental justice by Friends of the Earth on April 4, 2019

Picture credit: Tiputini River and rainforest, Yasuni National Park, Amazon, Ecuador. (Pete Oxford/Minden Pictures/Corbis); Read more at Smithsonianmag.com.

On April 4th 2019, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the appeal in the historic case of the Indigenous people of Ecuador versus Chevron, which has become known as the “Amazonian Chernobyl” due to its devastating impact on the region.

The Ecuadorian plaintiffs seek to enforce a judgment by Ecuador’s highest court ordering Chevron to pay more than $9.5 billion dollars for clean-up of the pollution  caused by deliberately negligent operation of oil fields.

Canadian court rulings

The ruling represents a step backward for the Union of People Affected by Chevron-Texaco (UDAPT) of Ecuador and victims of corporate crimes around the world. The Supreme Court of Canada could have adopted an innovative forward-looking approach with respect to corporate responsibility, justice and equity by ensuring Indigenous communities have access to justice and reparations.

By denying the appeal, the Supreme court chose to continue with the interpretation of the current laws which favour corporate impunity.

“It’s regrettable that legal technicalities and the lack of money pose obstacles to access to justice for people who are victims of corporate crimes. In spite of the decision in Canada, our quest for justice will continue,  and we will initiate legal proceedings in other countries,” said Willian Lucitante, Coordinator of UDAPT.

The Supreme Court of Canada previously recognized this lawsuit as public interest litigation. But the judges of the Ontario lower court declared that “[t]here is a difference between economic reality and legal reality”, so the laws in force should not be modified.

If the laws are changed, the Ecuadorian lawsuit could affect Canadian companies and force them to prioritize human rights above their business interests.

Pablo Fajardo, the lawyer for the Indigenous people and peasants affected by Chevron said “It is regrettable that, once again, a country demonstrates that justice is structured to protect and guarantee impunity for transnational corporations. The Supreme Court of Canada did not get a chance to hear the merits of the Ecuadorian case and only resolved not to accept the appeal. Our lawyers did not get the opportunity to explain the ramifications of Chevron’s legal structure, which protects it from lawsuits by those impacted by their negligent operations. This is a disastrous precedent for social struggles, for rights and justice”.

Seeking justice for over 25 years

The communities’ lawsuit for justice and reparation has been advancing through the courts for over 25 years. This trial has become an emblematic demonstration of impunity that allows transnational corporations to suffer no consequences when they violate Indigenous and human rights. 

UDAPT organization and background

The UDAPT is a grassroots organization made up of six Indigenous Nations and more than 80 peasant communities, representing over 30,000 people affected by the oil company Texaco and their irresponsible activities in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Texaco, acquired by Chevron in 2001, contaminated more than 450.000 hectares of virgin forest (that is more than 650,000 soccer fields!).

The oil company dumped crude oil, toxic waters and polluting gases that affected ecosystems, the population’s health and cultural systems, security and food sovereignty, which increased poverty and exclusion.

This contamination has had a serious impact on the health of the UDAPT community; causing the highest rates of childhood leukemia in Ecuador. Cancer deaths are one hundred and thirty percent more frequent and the mortality risk is two hundred and sixty percent higher than in other parts of Ecuador. Cancer accounts for thirty two percent of total deaths, 3 times more than the national average.

On top of these challenges, Chevron uses all means to obstruct the communities’ access to justice while  the contamination of the soil and rivers of the Ecuadorian Amazon continues. Every year people die without hope of reparation for future generations.

Working at binding treaty at United Nations level

During the past years, UDAPT along with hundreds of non-profit organizations that stand for human rights has joined with international efforts, whose aim  is to lobby for the creation of a binding treaty on transnational corporations and human rights at the United Nations.

The emblematic battle of the Ecuadorians against Chevron has unveiled the structure of impunity that allows transnational corporations to get away with gross human rights violations and environmental damage.

For additional comments by Willian Lucitante, check the website of texacotoxico.net.

The Crowd Versus will continue to crowdfund for their legal needs

The Crowd Versus will continue to seek donations and crowdfund for this very important case. The indigenous peoples and Ecuadorian people stand at the front line of the defense against climate pollution by irresponsible governments and corporations.

The UDAPT have a judgment and they seek enforcement to achieve justice.

We believe they will prevail.

If you do, too, then show your faith here or become active on their behalf here.

Chevron vs Ecuador: International Arbitration and Corporate Impunity

The infamous story of the environmental pollution of the Ecuadorian Amazon by Chevron-Texaco – which has come to be known as the „Amazonian Chernobyl“ – is entering a new phase.

By Aldo Orellana López; Originally published 27 March 2019 in OpenDemocracy.net

Photograph information: Former Pink Floyd front-man and activist Roger Waters shows his support for the affected communities in the Chevron-Texaco case, Quito, Ecuador, October 20, 2018. Photo by: Franklin J�come/PRESSOUTH/NurPhoto/Sipa USA. PA Images. All rights reserved.

Eight years ago, in February 2011, the Sucumbíos provincial court issued a historic ruling in the case known as Lago Agrio against the Chevron-Texaco oil company, sentencing it to pay 9,500 million dollars for polluting the Amazon during its operations there between 1964 and 1992. Since then, however, the Ecuadorian justice system has been unable to enforce the sentence.

What is more, it is now the Ecuadorian government that, as a result of an international lawsuit filed by Chevron under the global system of investment protection, should be paying the company a multimillion-dollar compensation. The arbitration tribunal that admitted the lawsuit and has rendered the award in favor of the company has also ordered Ecuador to annul the sentence of the Sucumbíos court, which it considers unlawful.

In view of this situation, the Union of the People Affected by Texaco-Chevron Operations (UDAPT) in Ecuador – plaintiff in the Lago Agrio case – has denounced the decision of the arbitration panel, accusing it of overriding the rights of the affected communities by imposing the corporation’s right to profits. The Union has warned that if the decision of the arbitrators is implemented, this will set a very dangerous precedent for the global fight to protect the environment and defend human rights.

The Chevron case in Ecuador, along with other environmental and social crimes involving multinational corporations – from the recent breakdown of the toxic mining waste dams of the Vale and BHP corporations in Brazil, to the repression and criminalization of communities and even the murder of environmental defenders, such as the still unsolved murder case of Berta Cáceres in Honduras -, highlights the need for a legally binding international instrument to put an end to the impunity with which the companies operate, and to offer adequate guarantees to the communities that are resisting and protecting the land.

This instrument should make it possible to take companies before international courts and have them respond for their crimes, and also ensure the affected communities effective access to justice and reparation.

The Ecuadorian David and Goliath

According to Pablo Fajardo, a lawyer working for UDAPT, „Chevron operated in the Ecuadorian Amazon with the aim of obtaining the largest possible economic return for the company“. To achieve this goal, it used obsolete techniques and was fully aware of the pollution it was causing. The UDAPT affirm that the company disposed of nearly 650.000 barrels of crude oil and more than 16 billion gallons of wastewater in the rivers and soils of the Amazonian jungle, affecting the health and lifestyles of more than 30.000 indigenous people and peasants in different communities.

Other practices Chevron indulged in include open-air burning of gases and the spilling of oil onto roads – according to them, in order to prevent the raising of dust. The UDAPT lawyer points out that, up to now, at least „2,000 people have died from cancer due to toxins and polluted water and air“.

The Chevron case in Ecuador highlights the need for a legally binding international instrument to put an end to the impunity with which companies operate, and to offer adequate guarantees to the communities that are resisting and protecting the land.

Texaco, which was taken over by Chevron in 2001, arrived in Ecuador in 1964 to drill for oil in the northern Ecuadorian Amazon, specifically in the provinces of Sucumbíos and Orellana. This is a high biodiversity area which is home to dozens of indigenous and peasant communities.

Justino Piaguaje, the president of the Siekopai Original Nation and a spokesperson for the UDAPT, explains that „finding oil was synonymous with wealth. It was thought that all of the country’s financial and social problems were going to get solved – but not so for the native peoples. The problem of pollution started, the rivers got polluted and our land shrank“.

Texaco finished its operations in Ecuador in 1992 and left the country. By then, the impact of almost 3 decades of irresponsible exploitation was all too obvious. Shortly after, 6 indigenous nations and more than 80 affected peasant communities founded UDAPT. Its aim, from the start, has been to seek environmental remediation and reparations for the damages caused by the oil company in the jungle and to hold it accountable for its actions.

To this end, it filed a lawsuit against Texaco in the US in 1993. However, at the request of the company, the suit was transferred to Ecuador and the hearings of what became known as the Lago Agrio case were held at the local Sucumbíos provincial court. Finally, on February 11, 2011, after a litigation that lasted nearly two decades, the Sucumbíos court ruled in favor of the UDAPT and sentenced Chevron-Texaco to pay a 9,5 billions dollar fine to compensate for the harm incurred.

Chevron filed an appeal, but the ruling was ratified by all the judicial instances in Ecuador – including the National Court of Justice and the Constitutional Court, the highest court in the country. As Pablo Fajardo explains, the Constitutional Court’s ruling of July 2018 recognized that “many rights of indigenous peoples and peasants had been violated by the company“, which is something that the UDAPT had been claiming all along – for over 18 years.

Thus came to an end one of the most prominent lawsuits in recent decades: one in which an indigenous and peasant organization brought to court and won a lawsuit against one of the largest multinational corporations in the world – the revenue of which in 2018 exceeded 150 billion dollars, almost twice the GDP of Ecuador.

According to Pablo Fajardo, Chevron’s defense framework during the litigation involved some 2.000 lawyers from more than 60 legal firms and its defense expenses amounted to 250 million dollars per year. Despite all of this, the UDAPT won. „For reason is in our side“, says Fajardo.

However, as soon as this great challenge ended, another one began: that of carrying out the courts’ decision. And this has turned out to be a much tougher path to tread because, over the years, Chevron has not only tried to sabotage the legal process against it, but has taken action to shield itself and protect its assets.

Chevron’s strategies to sabotage the trial

The UDAPT point out that, throughout the process, Chevron carried out a number of actions to try and sabotage it – from political pressure to threatening international legal proceedings. This “strategy of fear” was adopted in order to isolate Ecuador from its international allies, and was reinforced by an aggressive media campaign to discredit the Ecuadorian courts and the UDAPT defense team.

„According to Chevron, the indigenous people, the peasants and their lawyers had unlawfully associated themselves to extort money from the company. And the company took legal actions in that line. That is, the company pictured itself as the victim and the indigenous people and the peasants as the criminals“, Fajardo explains.

In a global and regional scenario where socio-environmental conflicts are multiplying, not only are multinational corporations – who are now playing the role of the victim – active in generating conflicts, but they are also involved in criminalizing and even eliminating environment activists and defenders of the land – no less than 207 in 2017.

„The company pictured itself as the victim and the indigenous people and the peasants as the criminals“.

The UDAPT lawyer explains that when Chevron realized that the communities would continue to push their demand until the very end, it began to withdraw all its assets from the country. „The only thing it left behind was a bank account with 350 dollars in it and nothing else“.

Faced with the impossibility of enforcing the ruling in Ecuador, the UDAPT tried unsuccessfully to get other countries where Chevron owns assets that could be seized to ratify it – Argentina, Brazil, Canada and even the United States. But authorities in these countries rejected this possibility arguing, among other things, that the matter involved in fact different companies: „You cannot charge Chevron Argentina or Chevron Brasil with a debt incurred by Chevron Corporation, which is a different company“, they said.

The problem is that „Chevron Corporation does not own assets in its name almost anywhere in the world“, says Fajardo. In his view, „the legal structure that these companies have been building through auxiliary enterprises and holding companies is simply a structure to evade their responsibility and, in this case, to evade justice“ – which is undeniably an adverse scenario for the UDAPT.

Chevron’s lawsuit against Ecuador

During the UDAPT trial, not only did Chevron withdraw all its assets from Ecuador, but it also sued the country in international courts with the aim of sabotaging the trial and seeking financial compensation. In 2009, the company resorted to the Investor-State Difference Arbitration System (ISDS) and sued Ecuador in the Permanent Court of Arbitration (CPA) in The Hague claiming that it had violated the 1993 Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) between Ecuador and United States.

The company accused Ecuador of „denial of justice“. Finally, on August 31, 2018, almost 10 years later, a CPA arbitration panel issued an award in favor of the company ordering Ecuador to annul the decision of the Sucumbíos court and ruling, in addition, that the Ecuadorian State should pay Chevron a compensation amount – still to be determined – for the alleged economic and moral damages that it had caused.

This is not the first time that Chevron has sued Ecuador in international courts. It had previously tried to accuse it of polluting, and had even successfully filed once an appeal before the CPA.

However, the problem now is that the 2018 award by the arbitration panel clashes head-on with the decision of the Lago Agrio case in favor of the UDAPT. How can this be? The key is to be found in some agreements that the company had signed with the Ecuadorian governments between 1995 and 1998 which include a contract freeing the company from obligations, financial or otherwise.

Chevron had left the country in 1992. However, it came back in 1995 seeking an agreement that it finally got signed in 1998. According to Adoración Guamán, an expert lawyer for the Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power – an international coalition grouping more than 200 organizations – the government then and the company signed a „contract for the undertaking of environmental repair work and the freeing of obligations“.

It is a document by which the government frees Texaco from any responsibility “forever”. This is the contract that Chevron used to sue Ecuador in the CPA in 2009 and that not only allowed it to disclaim responsibility for polluting the Amazon, but also helped it to seek economic compensation for having been sued.

Adoración Guamán points out that Chevron’s lawsuit kept on mutating as the lawsuit of the people affected in the Lago Agrio case followed its course and progressed. At the beginning, the company argued that the government of Ecuador, by allowing the UDAPT to take legal action, was in breach of the 1998 agreement – thereby incurring in denial of justice.

But when the ruling in favor of those affected became known, the company changed its line of argument and „accused the victims of having bribed the judges responsible for the decision“. The company claimed that there existed „a plot between the government and the victims to get compensation“.

Guamán says that „the arbitration panel considered that this had been proven“ and, on this basis, it ordered Ecuador to annul the sentence and to take measures to prevent it from being executed in other parts of the world – and thus ordered the government of Ecuador to communicate to all the countries where Chevron owns assets that the „Ecuadorian judicial power had committed an illegality.“

Pablo Fajardo maintains that this is „tremendously arbitrary and illegal“ and asks: „What is the point of a country’s law if legal decisions can be suspended by decisions of international authorities in processes which the citizens of this country do not have access to?“

Attacking the sovereignty of Ecuador

Chevron’s lawsuit in the CPA was questioned from the very beginning by the UDAPT and its allies. In the first place, as Pablo Fajardo points out, because „the Bilateral Treaty of Investment Protection was applied retroactively – something that is illegal and illegitimate“.

He specifies that Chevron left the country in 1992 and that the BIT between Ecuador and the United States was signed in 1993 and only entered into force in 1997. Despite this, the CPA admitted the claim on the grounds that when Texaco went back to Ecuador in 1995 it supposedly carried out „repair activities which involved investments“.

„So, what legal guarantee, if any, do the victims of corporate crimes have? None whatsoever. Economic power is being imposed and companies are buying impunity“.

Second, Fajardo notes, „the CPA panel has no competence, no legal capacity to order an independent and sovereign State to annul a final criminal sentence ordered by a court under Ecuador’s legal system“. What the CPA panel has done, in fact, is „ordering the Ecuadorian State to violate its own constitution, to break the separation of powers between the executive branch of government and the judiciary, and to get the Executive to interfere in judicial matters in order to have the sentence annulled“.

These are the reasons why the CPA award is, according to him, absolutely inapplicable. Hence, „the judgment of the Lago Agrio case cannot be annulled because there is no legal provision to do so, and therefore is fully valid“, he says.

Those affected say that the CPA award flagrantly violates their rights, because the 1998 BIT contract binds the government but not the UDAPT. In addition, they argue, the Lago Agrio case is a private trial, in which the government did not intervene – therefore, Fajardo points out, the CPA „is affecting the rights of third parties“ in the trial.

The UDAPT reasons that the outcome of this case should be of concern not only to those affected and to Ecuador, but also to all the people the world over who are involved in fighting to defend the environment and human rights.

„It affects and violates the sovereignty of States, which is important as a legal precedent“, says Fajardo, and he insists that „if this arbitration award is allowed to go ahead, it could be applied to other States, where national courts of justice will lose the capacity to administer justice before transnational corporations. So, what legal guarantee, if any, do the victims of corporate crimes have? None whatsoever. Economic power is being imposed and companies are buying impunity“, he concludes.

Binding Treaty: an instrument to end corporate impunity

The Chevron case is yet another eloquent example of the impunity with which multinational corporations operate globally. It reinforces the need for an international instrument to put an end to it.

International allies point out that this case highlights the need for mechanisms which not only recognize the obligations that companies have, but also offer adequate guarantees to communities for accessing reparation and justice mechanisms.

At the same time, it shows how multinational corporations are using the international investment protection mechanism to undermine the sovereignty of countries and challenge the decisions of national courts of justice. The global investment system imposes corporate profit over and above respect for human rights and the environment. As Adoración Guamán says, we do need an instrument to change this state of affairs and „give primacy to human rights over trade and investment norms“.

„Justice as such does not exist, especially when the criminal is a transnational corporation and the victims are indigenous peoples, peasants, or nature“.

Experts also question the lack of effectiveness of human rights systems to enforce their mandates. While multinational corporations benefit from international mechanisms to protect investments which are mandatory, compliance with mandates for the protection of human rights and the environment tend to be voluntary or lack the necessary mechanisms to enforce them. „There is a huge legal vacuum here and a binding treaty is absolutely necessary“, says Fajardo.

This is precisely the aim of the Binding Treaty on Transnational Corporations and Human Rights that is currently being promoted within the framework of the United Nations (UN) by international organizations and the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power – of which the UDAPT is part.

The Campaign has denounced the Chevron case, stating that „three private arbitrators, responding to commercial interests, are throwing out of the window a just claim and undoing 20 years of work by a broad set of plaintiffs“. It declares that the arbitration system „establishes a commercial law which sets as its priority the protection of capital profits over the right to life“.

Adoración Guamán says that the Chevron case has become the banner of the fight for a Binding Treaty. She warns that as long as multinational corporations like Chevron are not afraid of justice and do not see an effective mechanism in place that can put them on trial, sentence them and force them to pay „they will not respect human rights“.

„To Chevron, it is a matter of money and prestige. To the people affected, it is a matter of life“, says Fajardo. What Chevron did „was no accident. It was an intentional crime committed during 26 consecutive years“.

However, despite all the evidence and a due process with a final sentence against it, Chevron is not paying for its crimes. „Justice as such does not exist, especially when the criminal is a transnational corporation and the victims are indigenous peoples, peasants, or nature“, he says.

Fajardo insists that the UDAPT will continue to seek justice with the aim not only of getting Chevron to repair the damage it has caused in the Ecuadorian Amazon but, more importantly, of „setting a precedent, so that this type of crime will not be repeated in any other place in the world“.

A UN Treaty to Reduce Corporate Impunity Advantages

4 March 2019

OPINION: A promising negotiation is taking place at the UN Human Rights Council. A legally binding treaty on business and human rights could give victims transnational corporations’ malpractice a lot more power to pursue the justice they deserve. The EEB is stepping up its efforts to make the most of this opportunity to achieve environmental justice globally.

By Nick Meynen, European Environmental Bureau (EEB)

Photo credit: By Henry Mühlpfordt – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

In 1993, Ecuadorian citizens sued Texaco (that became Chevron) for leaving behind a massive amount of deadly pollution from decades of oil operations in the Amazon Rainforest. Twenty years and an unprecedented legal ordeal later, Ecuador’s Supreme Court ordered Chevron to pay $9.5 billion to clean up. Chevron refuses and instead paid a vast army of lawyers and PR firms to sue the victim’s lawyers and discredit them and Ecuador’s Supreme Court. The EEB crowdfunded for the lawyers who defend the 30.000 Ecuadorean plaintiffs. They are still proceeding the case in Canada. 26 years after opening a court case that they won at the highest level six years ago, the victims still face massive pollution problems and corporate impunity.

This case explains why it was Ecuador who took a bold initiative. In June 2014, the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva adopted a resolution drafted by Ecuador and South Africa. An open-ended intergovernmental working group with the mandate to elaborate an international legally binding instrument on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with respect to human rights, chaired by Ecuador, was established. After three sessions in 2015, 2016 and 2017, a ‘zero draft’ of this new legally binding treaty on business and human rights was presented.

The EEB has written to the the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to comment on the draft. Francesca Carlsson, Legal officer for the EEB:

“We regret that that there is no mention of the need to protect Human Rights and Environmental defenders and journalists from abuse, harassment, criminalization and harm. It is often thanks to the work of defenders and the media that victims are able to organize themselves to claim their rights. There should be dissuasive measures on corporations and governments that use methods to silence defenders.”

In the past decade, the number of environmental defenders killed, often on the order of or by the transnational corporations that this treaty tries to regulate, has gone from one a week to four a week.

Carlsson also said that in order to truly have justice for victims, “it is important that they are given the opportunity to ask the courts for injunctive measures, including relief.” She also listed a list of positive elements in the draft that should not get compromised in further negotiation stages. The draft of this treaty attempts to widen the scope of jurisdiction for victims, allowing them to benefit from the most protective legislation. Multinational corporations already have the means to benefit from “forum shopping”, picking the countries with the legislation most favorable for their case.

The legally binding treaty on business and human rights is a promising initiative that could seriously improve global environmental justice. That is sorely needed, given the fast-rising global environmental justice movement, which is linked to the ever increasing amount of environmental conflicts, which the EEB also helps to map in the Atlas of Environmental Justice. The treaty is also a direct opposite of the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanisms adopted in trade deals, as they expand the powers of transnational corporations. The EEB is one of 100s of organizations behind an European campaign that calls for rights for people and rules for corporations. Aside from stopping ISDS, the organizations behind this campaign want the EU to fully engage with the UN Treaty on business and human rights.

You can join the more than 500.000 Europeans who support this campaign here.

Originally published by Nick Meynen at metamag.org, link here

UDAPT Demands Transparency from Ecuador Government

27 February 2019

Press release by the Ecuadorian minister for Energy

This past week, 26 February 2019, the government of Ecuador announced (article in Spanish) that it will repair the environmental damages caused by Chevron in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

This declaration by Carlos Perez, the Minister of Energy of Ecuador, surprised the UDAPT — the Union of those Affected by Texaco-Chevron. The UDAPT organization were neither informed nor consulted. Now, the UDAPT fear that there may be an agreement between the multinational and the national government of Ecuador which they do not know about.

Background

The UDAPT will not  accept reparations as approved by an old agreement between Chevron and Ecuador from 1995-1998. The Ecuador government then agreed to conditions which consisted of sometimes hiding parts of the pollution, such as dirt piled on top of oil pits.

UDAPT Demands

The UDAPT demand that the process of remediations be made transparent. They want to fully participate. The remediation process has to account for more than just the clean-up of the pollution Chevron left behind. The process must restore the water sources, rivers and ecosystems. The UDAPT peoples need good health programs for their high rates of cancer and illnesses. After 26 years of pollution, they require the rehabilitation of indigenous cultures, which they feel is the minimum of reparation to be done.

Most importantly, the UDAPT also demand the remediation process is transparent. They demand to be consulted at each level.

Tuesday 27 February Facebook event:

A Facebook LIVE event was held Tuesday, 27 February 2019, at 11:00 AM Quito, Ecuador time.

ICYMI: In Case You Missed It

Here is the video which you can turn into a WATCH TOGETHER event:

Facebook Posts by Attorney Pablo Fajardo

Facebook posts:

TRANSLATION of Pablo Fajardo’s post:

REPUDIABLE THE ACTION OF THE GOVERNMENT OF ECUADOR. Friends, today the Ecuadorian State through the person of Mr. Carlos Perez, Minister of Petroleum, informed us that the State will remedy the assets left for them by Chevron in Orellana and Sucumbios. That fact is serious. There is a verdict that finds Chevron guilty and condemns it to pay the cost of environmental remediation. Now the State, with money from all of us, wants to remedy what Chevron harmed. This fact apparently reflects a possible agreement between the oil company and the Ecuadorian State. They could not annul the sentence, now they are looking for other mechanisms to weaken the people’s struggle for access to justice. The lack of transparency of the Ecuadorian State in this matter is repudiable and condemnable, they know that there is a condemnatory sentence, and they have not been able to inform and consult those affected. What is more, with what parameters do they want to remedy? With those who have applied Chevron and the State in the past? With those who determine the sentence?
We repudiate this fact and we oppose this supposed remediation if all these facts are not clarified first. I invite you, friends, to remain attentive.

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator

For further information, please read here at the www.texacotoxico.net website (Spanish version available only).

CALL TO ACTION:

Please become active and support this 26-year old case. Write your thoughts or submit pictures you have taken in the jungle of the Amazon. Links for Bloggers Versus or Photogs Versus.

Make your voice heard!

Growing Up in an Oil Contaminated Environment: The Effects on Children

Posted on January 29, 2019

The Ecuadorian Amazon is one of the most beautiful and diverse natural areas in the world, but after a major environmental disaster, children now grow up in a contaminated environment. 

Twenty five years ago the oil company Chevron caused one of the largest oil spills in history. It still affects the lives of the people living in the area, because people get sikc, children grow up in a contaminated environment, and animals and plants die.

UDAPT

A group of 30,000 indigenous peoples and peasant united in UDAPT to fight a legal battle against Chevron. They want the oil spill cleaned up and a health program for the people affected.

Parents Struggle

For children, growing up in an environment like this is hard. They see their parents struggle and there is not much they can do. The legal battle goes on for 25 years and the major question is: will they ever see justice?

Tell the world

To tell the world about their situation, the children made drawings of their life. The message is clear: we are suffering. The only way to make their lives better, is by supporting the legal case. Only by law can Chevron be held accountable, and be forced to clean up their mess.

You can help by sharing this message, or support the case financially, because these children deserve a better future .

children's life after an oil spill

Support Against ISDS Decision in Chevron v. Ecuador Case

28 November 2018

Several declarations and letters have been addressed to the President of the Republic, Lenín Moreno and the State Attorney, Íñigo Salvador.

The letters consisted of the following:

The signatories of these letters concur in asking the Ecuadorian authorities to be guarantors of Human Rights. They ask the Ecuador government leaders to reject the application of the decision of the arbitration tribunal.

On the contrary, there remains a risk that the power of the oil company will force Ecuador, through coercive mechanisms, to discard the judgments, setting a serious precedent against the sovereignty of the State.

What can you do?

Just as in other posts, you can have your voice join others who believe #HumanRights trump #CorporatePrivileges and spread awareness through your friends and family, through posting this onto social media channels which in turn will inspire other, like-minded folks. You can start here with a number of options.