On the way to school recently we drove past the Chevron in Guisachan Village and my dad looked over at me and said, “I refuse to support Chevron now because of the situation in Ecuador.”
I began to think about how many students and teachers commuting to and from school get their tank filled up and unintentionally support a company that has committed countless human rights violations.
It has been dubbed the Amazonian Chernobyl.
The people of Ecuador, especially the Indigenous population, have been put through so much and have not received justice. They have been protesting since the 1990s and their most recent march was on April 7th, 2021. Toxic oil waste is not only having an effect on the environment but also on their health.
According to a cancer research summary relating Chevron to the rise in cancer cases in Ecuador, there have been statistically significant higher rates of cancer for populations living nearby Chevron oil fields, even adding a disclaimer that, because the study relied on the National Cancer Registry for its data, cancer rates may be underestimated. There simply aren’t enough clinics to treat the influx of people who have fallen ill.
Legal action was needed, but who would dare to go after such a dominant cooperation?
American defence attorney Steven Donziger won the largest human rights lawsuit back in 2011 against Chevron. The company had been dumping large amounts of toxic oil waste into the Ecuadorian Amazon forest affecting not only the environment but the people. An estimate of at least 68 billion litres of toxic waste was dumped into the sensitive soil of the rainforest spanning over 4,400 square kilometres. With the help of Steven Donziger and his legal team, Chevron was set to pay 9.5 billion dollars for reparations to the 30,000 Indigenous plaintiffs he represented.
Sadly, this isn’t the end of the story
Following the loss of the case, Chevron hired private detectives and lawyers that had in the past been censured for fabricating evidence, witness tampering, intimidation and more. Then began their smear campaign against Steven Donziger.
On Chevron’s website, they have a specific page dedicated to the case. Here is a segment from their statement: “Chevron is defending itself against false allegations that it is responsible for alleged environmental and social harms in the Amazon region of Ecuador.“
This becomes incredibly uncompelling when there are several witnesses and photos to attest to the “alleged” environment and social harm
But on March 4, 2014, Judge Lewis Kaplan convicted Donziger of fraud and racketeering in the previous case against Chevron and all charges from the previous case were dismissed.
However, this isn’t the first case of a big corporation being let off by Judge Lewis Kaplan. He was formerly a tobacco industry lawyer and has committed many ethical violations over the course of his career.
Despite the despicable nature of this case, Chevron continues to thrive. If only there was something we could do… Cue the Instagram activism post.
Seriously, If you are able to please stop going to Chevron for gas. I know this is overused but really, if we all cut back we can make a difference and show the cooperation that it doesn’t pay to harm the earth.