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While the Union of People Affected by Texaco (UDAPT) of Ecuador is preparing to move forward in September with its lawsuit before the Canadian Supreme Court of Justice over compensation for 30,000 people affected by the actions of this company (now merged with Chevron), the Court continues attempting to annul any claim filed. In one of the latest episodes in this long battle, the transnational corporation has blackmailed and pressured the Ecuadorian government several times to interfere with the communities´ lawsuit, after which an Ecuadorian Court ruled in 2011 that Chevron should pay 9.5 billion dollars in compensation for the damage caused to the communities and the environment.
Since 2004, Chevron has filed three international lawsuits against Ecuador as a way to discourage and neutralize the lawsuit filed by the communities in 1993. One of them, known as Chevron 2, was filed before The Hague international Court, which ruled in favor of the transnational corporation in 2011, arguing that Ecuador had broken provisions established in the Bilateral Investment Treaty signed with the US. The Ecuadorian government appealed the ruling unsuccessfully, and so it had to pay 112 million dollars to Chevron last July 22nd. But before this, the UDAPT had proposed that the amount was seized by the Ecuadorian State as part of the debt Chevron keeps with the communities, a proposal that was shared by President Rafael Correa.
"Chevron doesn´t need 100 million dollars"
Pablo Fajardo, lawyer and member of the UDAPT made reference to why the appeal wasn´t successful in an interview Friday morning with Real World Radio: “What did the oil company do? It elaborated a systematic attack scheme against Ecuador. It filed its complaint in 6 US states to seize different assets of Ecuador in the country; and it also initiated an extremely strong media campaign at international level to delegitimize Ecuador´s credibility in the financial system, so that it can´t sell bonds or request credits again, arguing that Ecuador is not a serious country and that it does not comply with the rulings of arbitrators".
The actions, according to Fajardo, did not aim to collect the amount of money mentioned above, but to "pressure Ecuador, to blackmail the country and to interfere in the ruling of the Ecuadorian Constitutional Court and annul the entire trial. They used this payment to blackmail the State. One hundred million dollars don´t mean anything for Chevron, whose net annual profits amount to over 25 billion dollars.
A key moment
September 12 marks the beginning of a new challenge for the population of the Ecuadorian Amazon affected by Chevron. Through September 16, the Canada Supreme Court of Justice hearing requested by the UDAPT will take place, aiming to homologate in that country the ruling of the Ecuadorian Constitutional Court through which Chevron was ordered to pay 9.5 billion dollars.
Although he said he is hopeful in a favorable decision by the Canadian Court, Fajardo raised several challenges ahead: "Chevron has an army, it has 6 law firms, over 300 professionals working full time, in our case they have 2 lawyers. But we are right; we have the strength of the truth and that´s why we believe we will also succeed in this court as well".
La oposición a la minería debe entenderse como la lucha por los derechos que esa actividad no respeta, pues “cada derecho que se le otorga a una empresa, es un derecho que se le resta a una comunidad”, asegura el coordinador del Observatorio de Conflictos Mineros de América Latina (OCMAL), César Padilla.
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