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.

Lawyer for Affected by Chevron/Texaco Speaks about the Partnership between UDAPT and The Crowd Versus

Pablo Fajardo Explains UDAPT’s Relationship with The Crowd Versus

English Translation

In the personal words of Pablo Fajardo, attorney for the UDAPT Organization, representing the over 30,000 people affected by the oil pollution left behind in Lago Agree, Ecuador:

When we decided to make this agreement with The Crowd Versus, we did so after researching the work they do. Certainly, there have been many offers from various other platforms that attract resources, but it seems to us that the work of The Crowd Versus is perfectly aligned with that of UDAPT, which is a work that is attached to the social struggle, to the defense of the rights of nature, of human rights, of indigenous peoples, and of access to justice. So The Crowd Versus policy is really fully compatible with the dreams, with the aspirations, with the struggle of UDAPT, and this identifies us fully with the work.

Call to Action:

Do you want to help by either donating (here) 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; link to UDAPT’s post here.

Spanish Transcript

Cuando decidimos hacer este acuerdo con The Crowd Versus lo hicimos previa investigación del trabajo que ellos hacen. Por cierto, han existido muchas ofertas de varias otras plataformas que captan recursos, pero nos parece que el trabajo de The Crowd Versus es perfectamente coerente con lo de la UDAPT, que es un trabajo que está pegado a la lucha social, a la defensa de los derechos de la naturaleza, de los derechos humanos, de los pueblos indígenas, y del acceso a la justicia. Entonces la politica de The Crowd Versus es realmente compatible plenamente con los sueños, con la aspiración, con la lucha de la UDAPT, y esto nos identifica plenamente con el trabajo.

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 Oil Spill in Ecuador

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The Crowd Claims The lawsuit against Chevron by the Amazon people raises two fundamental questions for the Canadian court to decide: (1) Should justice prioritize human rights over the interests of transnational…

Chevron vs. Ecuador: International Arbitration & Impunity (ISDS case)

21 March 2019; Posted by Pancho Lopez and published at Blogspot

In February of 2011, the Ecuadorian Courts delivered a historic verdict, sentencing the Big Oil Corporation Chevron-Texaco to pay US $9,500 million dollars for its contamination of the Ecuadorian Amazon (1964-1992).

However, Chevron hit back via the Investor-State Dispute Settlement system (ISDS) and sued Ecuador in the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) based in the Hague. The corporation accused Ecuador of having violated Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) it had signed with the US.

In August of 2018, a private arbitration panel for the CPA ruled in favour of Chevron, ordering Ecuador to overturn the sentence it had passed in favour of the affected.

At the heart of the matter is an illegal, unconstitutional and inapplicable judgement that contravenes international public order.

Pablo Fajardo and Justino Piaguaje, lawyer and representative of the Union of those affected by the Chevron-Texaco (UDAPT) respectively, explain how this ruling violates Ecuadorian sovereignty and constitutes a major case of corporate impunity that risks setting dangerous precedents for the defence of the natural world and of collective human rights.

Labels: Ecuador vs Chevron Imperialist Justice – Just Us ISDS Private Transnational Arbitration Courts Trampling On Rights of People & Weaker States Utter Pollution Above National Laws

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!

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.

UDAPT Tells Story of Battle for Justice on New Website

UDAPT Tells Story of Battle for Justice on New Website

One of the biggest oil spills in the history of our planet happened in the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador, contaminating an area of almost 5 000 square km. They seek justice in, what is called in legalese, “reparations.”

The word reparations mean money. They need this money not to enrich themselves, but to build health care facilities and programs for their people. And their lands with contaminated oil pits need to be further cleaned up, a monumental challenge and task.

The affected communities and peasants have united themselves in the UDAPT organization. For 25 years they have been seeking this type of justice for their peoples through the courts.

UDAPT needs as much help as possible, especially social media attention and money for their worthy cause.

That’s why they developed a new website. On the new UDAPT website you can read about the people involved, the effects on the communities, the programs they have developed so far, and the long legal battle for justice.

How You Can Help Online

Read more about the case on the case page. Or on social media. Check out UDAPT on Twitter, and The Facebook of UDAPT.  Likes and re-posts are very much appreciated.

Frequently Used Hashtags (#):

If you want to share the message of UDAPT, please use the following hashtags:

#UDAPT #LifeWithoutContamination #StopCorporateImpunity #StopChevronImpunity #LaLuchaContinua #ChevronCulpable #ChevronCleanUp #ChevronToxico #tratadovinculante

If you use these, we can find your help, like and/or re-post it!

Why do you want to share or donate?

This Case Is About Human Environmental Rights for All of Us

This case also deals with human rights versus corporate interests. It is about corporations learning to conduct social enterprise: the cost of doing business in larger terms of just taking from the earth and changing it into money.

The facts of this case: in the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador, the oil company Chevron-Texaco left a contaminated mess behind the size of 1 850 square miles (4 800 sq.km). From 1964 – 1990, Chevron-Texaco used inadequate and obsolete oil extraction methods, and ended up dumping toxic waste and crude oil into pits in the jungle.

When they left the area, the local communities stayed behind with contaminated water and oil pits. Nobody in the communities knew the oil would be so bad for their health. Children played in the waters, not knowing the effects long-term. This led to much higher disease rates and even deaths in their communities.

United in UDAPT

Six indigenous nationalities and 80 peasant communities, who had lived and live in these contaminated areas, began the nonprofit organization called UDAPT (Union of People Affected by Texaco). In 1993, UDAPT started the first case against Chevron (then Texaco) for the damage in the provinces of Sucumbíos and Orellana.

The goal was to make Chevron repair the contaminated Northern Ecuadorian Amazon — the lungs of our earth — and provide health care for the people.

Chevron Refuses to Pay

In 2013, the National Court of Justice of Ecuador ordered the multinational Chevron Corporation to pay US $ 9.5 billion in order to build health care programs and restore contaminated areas.

When the case started, Chevron had promised to submit to the judgments of the Ecuadorian courts. In the end, the oil giant refused to pay for the damages.

Since then, the UDAPT-plaintiffs have had to seek enforcement of this Ecuadorian verdict in other countries, where the oil company does have assets (funding to provide healthcare and repair the damages).

Finally this year, their case has landed before the Supreme Court of Canada to seek justice, after a long struggle of appeals and arguments. The case has now achieved the status of a landmark case because of the legal issues it claims and encompasses.

It now functions as an example for other, similar cases about human environmental rights, after 25 years of litigation.

Thank you for helping, wherever, whenever.

18 October UDAPT Marches in Geneva, Switzerland

UDAPT Marches in Geneva in Support of Climate Alliance

18 October 2018

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D345rsuUvSE&feature=youtu.be

YouTube film by Klima-Allianz Schweiz, 18 October 2018

The UDAPT, the Ecuadorian organization that represents over 30,000 peoples, 6 indigenous tribes, and peasants who are negatively affected, to this day, by the polluted messes left behind by Chevron-Texaco in their Amazonian backyard, participated in a march held in Geneva, by the Climate Alliance Switzerland.

The battle against climate change cannot be won without social justice.

 

Show your support by sharing widely, please and thank you!