US Denies Visas to Ecuadoreans Connected to $18B Chevron Case
The ongoing struggle in Ecuador’s fight with Chevron-Texaco added a new wrinkle to the story on September 20 when the United States denied visas to an Ecuadorian delegation that was set to appear in front of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The delegation was going to present their case in the back and forth struggle according to rt.com.
The struggle took 17 years, but in February of 2011 an Ecuadorian judge declared Chevron guilty of widespread environmental contamination in the country’s Amazon region and ordered the oil giant to spend $18.6 billion to clean up the mess as reported by Indian Country Today Media Network at the time.
Prior to the ruling Amazon Watch reported that the oil giant had dumped more than 16 billion gallons of oil and toxic waste into the waters of many tribes in Ecuador’s Amazon between 1964 and 1990.
Chevron, who unsuccessfully appealed the February 2011 ruling, later saw the trial reach the international courts. Pablo Fajardo, the plantiffs attorney announced January 4, 2012 that the fight against Chevron was going to hit all continents.
Before taking the fight to international court, Chevron was ordered to issue a public apology along with collecting the fees from the oil giant – none of which happened in the year following the ruling.
RELATED: Chevron’s Appeal in Ecuador Denied
Then in July of 2012, Chevron was hit with $1 billion in fines following Chevron’s appeal to the Ecuadorian Supreme Court which came from an involuntary calculation error.
Four months later, in October the Indigenous Peoples of Ecuador received to victories in the case. The first came from the U.S. Supreme Court who refused to hear an appeal made by Chevron. The court said it would not consider the appeal following the latest ruling in January 2012. Then in Ecuador, a court ruled October 15 that the plaintiffs could seize $200 million worth of assets belonging to Chevron in Ecuador as part of the $18.2 billion penalty assessed against the U.S. based company for severe pollution and other related damages.
“With this recent struggle we cannot be victorious until justice is done and that society may know about the atrocity committed by the oil companies,” Fajardo said at a press conference on October 9 following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
Justice is what the plaintiffs are still seeking which is why the five Ecuadorian nationals were looking to head to New York to present their case. Instead the groups visas were returned according to Ecuador’s foreign ministry by the U.S. Embassy in Quito “without any explanation” according to rt.com.
The denied visas came three days after an interim ruling favored Texaco Corp., later acquired by Chevron, that found a 1995 agreement absolved the company from claims of “collective damage.”
According to rt.com the oil company is using the agreement to place the blame for the damages on Petroecuador, Ecuador’s national oil company.
Hewitt Pate, Chevron’s legal counsel said the ruling, “confirms that the fraudulent claims against Chevron should not have been brought in the first place.”
Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa launched “Chevron’s Dirty Hand” campaign this week seeking a global boycott of Chevron based on it’s continued refusal to pay for the billions in damages.
“We will expose to the world Chevron’s multimillion dollar campaign to discredit this country. It is a campaign that involves taking away preferential tariffs, boycotting international trade with the United States,” Correa said via rt.com.
rt.com also states that Wikileaks exposed the oil company of directly seeking help from the U.S. government in the situation in March of 2006. The Leaks say that “Chevron reps have suggested that the [U.S. government] pressure the [government of Ecuador] to assume responsibility for the environmental damage in the areas once operated by Chevron.”