WASHINGTON, D.C. – On April 20, Canadian and Indigenous activists will head to Washington, D.C. to join thousands of demonstrators seeking justice for the indigenous and farming communities of Ecuador who have been affected by Chevron Corporation’s pollution.
The Canadian Committee in Solidarity with the Affected Communities by Chevron – a Toronto-based grassroots group – is filling buses quickly with people interested in seeing Chevron own up to a $9.5 billion judgement against it dating back to 2011. That ruling was upheld by the International Court of Justice in March 2015.
Which is why between Apr. 20 and Aug. 6, the oil giant will be desperately seeking to evade its debt and be seeking to persuade an international arbitration tribunal from the Hague that the Ecuadorian government is the one responsible for the clean up. Chevron will be in Washington next week to “supposedly to gather more evidence,” wrote Santiago Escobar, an activist and organizer of the event, through Facebook.
“Through the tribunal Chevron is seeking to have the Ecuadorian government pay the Indigenous communities rather than make reparations themselves. At Edgar R. Murray Park, we will host an indigenous ceremony, called the Encounter of Eagle and the Condor, joined with indigenous from Canada, the US, Ecuador and Guatemala in order to demand justice for Ecuador,” he added.
In 2011, the 30,000 plaintiffs from indigenous and farming communities in the Lago Agrio Region in the Ecuadorian Amazon received a $9.5 billion judgement against Chevron in the country’s highest court. Chevron refused to abide by that judgement, and pulled all of its assets out of the country. Promptly, the plaintiffs exercised their legal right to pursue the matter in another court outside of Ecuador, namely in Ontario and Brazil.
Chevron was found guilty of dumping and abandoning billions of gallons of toxic waste in the Amazon between 1964 (when it was known as Texaco) and 1990. But the corporation has since pumped millions of dollars annually into trying to prove the judgement against it was granted through fraud and corruption.
Among other things, the oil giant is arguing that Ecuador’s government violated a bilateral agreement with the United States, and that the corporation had already settled the problem in 1995 with Ecuador’s government anyway.
But the international court found in favour of the plaintiffs’ rights, “Therefore leaving null and void the agreement signed between the then government of Ecuador and oil company Texaco, which Chevron acquired in 2001,” states an article from TeleSur English.
The gathering in Washington will participate in a panel discussion on the recent victory at the Hague in Ecuador’s lawsuit against Chevron with Rigoberta Menchú Tum, an Indigenous Guatemalan woman, activist and politician, who won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1992.
This comes at a time when Indigenous peoples across the American continent are connecting in their struggles in a concrete way. Indeed, the Unist’ot’en Camp also find themselves in a similar battle.
“We are also in contact with the Unist’ot’en Camp, who are battling against Chevron and other companies in resistance to the Pacific Trails Pipeline in Northern B.C.,” said Escobar. “We think that indigenous peoples from Canada and Ecuador have similar problems such as corporations that put profit first over common good. We think that affected communities can learn and support each other beyond borders.
The group is funding the trip through solidarity contributions from the Ecuadorian community, the labour movement and donations from individuals.
People can help, first and foremost, said Escobar, by joining the Solidarity Caravan to Washington D.C. Facebook event and coming along on the trip. Also by sharing pictures, videos and articles about Chevron’s Dirty Hand using the #MakeChevronPay, #ChevronsDirtyHand, #AntiChevron, #BoycottChevron, #DivestChevron and #JusticeForEcuador hashtags. People can also visit www.antichevron.ca.
The Caravan will be leaving Toronto at 8 a.m. on Apr. 20 from 55 Ranking Crescent, and returning to Toronto in the late evening of the 21st. To book a free spot please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or call Marta Palominos at 647-774-5349. To book a space in the bus leaving from Six Nations please call Donna Powless at 519-445-1745.