Ecuadorian Attorney General testifies in Chevron Texaco-Ecuadorian Indian case...
The Attorney General of Ecuador, Dr. Diego Garcia Carrion, spoke on April 22 at the National Press Club in Washington regarding a major case that could impact on the financial future of Chevron Texaco.
The case stems from Texaco's pollution of Ecuador's Amazon rain forest between 1964 and 1990. in November 1993, 30,000 Ecuadorian natives of Oriente Province filed a class action suit under the U.S. Alien Tort Claims Act against Texaco in the U.S. Court for the Southern District of New York. In 2002, the New York court dismissed the Ecuadorian lawsuit, as well as one from Peruvians downstream of the oil pollution, claiming that Ecuadorian and Peruvian courts were the proper venue for the cases. Last October, the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Second Circuit denied Chevron Texaco's attempt to force Ecuador to submit to binding arbitration to determine who is liable for the pollution, which has, among other things, causes an increase in cancer among the inhabitants of Oriente. A court-appointed expert concluded that Texaco dumped more than 18 billion gallons of toxic waste into the Amazon region during the 1970s and 80s.
The expert concluded that Chevron Texaco is liable for $27 billion in damages to Ecuador's rain forest and the people who lived in the affected area.
The stakes for Chevron Texaco in the class action suit of Maria Aguinda v. Chevron Texaco are enormous. In September 2008, two Chevron lawyers and seven former Ecuadorian government officials were indicted for fraud in Texaco's remediation of toxic waste clean-up during the 1990s. Chevron Texaco's lobbyists and lawyers in Washington also tried unsuccessfully to have Ecuador's preferential trade benefits with the United States revoked unless Ecuadorian courts ruled in the company's favor.
Texaco, which was bought by Chevron in 1991, claims that a series of agreements between Texaco and the government of Ecuador signed in 1994, 1995, and 1998, gave Texaco a "release" from indemnifying the inhabitants of Oriente for environmental damage and health problems caused by Texaco's pollution of previously pristine rain forest lands.
The Ecuadorian Attorney General is countering Chevron-Texaco's claim that a 1994 memorandum of understading between the Ecuadorian government and PetroEcuador on one side and Texaco on the other releases Chevron Texaco from any claims against the firm. Dr. Garcia's position as the chief attorney for Ecuador is that the 1994 MOU does not release Chevron Texaco from any claims that third parties, such as the current case of Aguinda v. Chevron Texaco.
If a three-person international arbitration court made up of Belgian, German, and British judges finds in favor of the Ecuadorian Indians, Chevron Texaco will be forced to pay out $27 billion. WMR has been told that would likely result in financial insolvency for the firm.
Ecuador's Attorney General's position is that the 1994, 1995, and 1998 MOUs did not release Texaco from Aguinda claims. The Attorney General's position demands that he remains neutral in the arbitration that is being conducted in accordance with United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) rules that work in tandem with regulations enacted by the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The Attorney General stated that he does not believe that Chevron Texaco acted fairly by trying to bring the Ecuadorian government into a case between a third party claimant and Chevron Texaco.
As a non-partisan chief counsel for the Republic of Ecuador, Diego, who is independent of the Ecuadorian executive, is not a counterpart to the U.S. Attorney General who is part of the executive branch of the U.S. government. Therefore, there were no invitations by the Justice Department to Diego to discuss any matters of mutual interest between the Obama administration and Ecuador. Diego said the future of the U.S. military base at Manta, Ecuador, which President Rafael Correa has ordered closed, is being handled by the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry and the U.S. Department of State.
Postscript: The other major topic being discussed, aside from the Stanford Financial Group collapse and money laundering, between this editor and my confidential source on March 17 when we were arrested by the Alexandria, Virginia police, was the law suit against Chevron Texaco by the Ecuadorian Indians. The arrests took place after two off-duty Alexandria police officers attempted to provoke the source, who is involved in the case on behalf of the Indians, in a racially-tinged encounter.
Considering the lengths to which Chevron Texaco has bribed Ecuadorian officials and lobbied Congress to make the Aguinda case go away, paying a few off-duty police toughs in Alexandria would certainly fit neatly into Chevron Texaco's modus operandi....