Trial opens in Chevron RICO suit against pollution victims in Ecuador
October 14, 2013
On Tuesday, Ecuadorean villagers from the Amazon rainforest region ravaged by Chevron’s oil contamination will join supporters for a large rally in Foley Square across from the courthouse where a trial will open in the California-based oil giant’s retaliatory R.I.C.O. (Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organization Act) lawsuit against the Ecuadorians and their U.S.-based legal advocates.
The Ecuadorians are representing 30,000 plaintiffs who won a landmark judgment against Chevron in an Ecuadorian court in 2011, wherein the company was ordered to pay more than $18 billion towards the cleanup of widespread contamination, as well as compensatory and punitive damages. The case, holding Chevron accountable for toxic dumping by its predecessor company, Texaco, has been upheld by appellate courts in Ecuador.
Nearly 20 years since the case was filed in 1993, Chevron refuses to pay for a cleanup, and is waging a scorched-earth legal, PR, and lobbying campaign to crush its victims and their advocates and supporters. The oil giant stripped its assets from the country, forcing the Ecuadorians to pursue enforcement of the judgment in countries where the Chevron still maintains assets. Chevron’s use of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act when filing suit against the Ecuadorian victims [.pdf ] and their advocates is the latest chapter in their attempts to evade accountability and repress those trying to hold the company to task.
“This trial is merely Chevron’s latest cynical ploy to evade accountability for its crimes in Ecuador,” said Paul Paz y Miño of Amazon Watch. “Chevron’s legacy in the Amazon has caused enough environmental ruin and human suffering already; it’s time the company to pay for a cleanup, rather than for more abusive efforts to run from its responsibility.”
The Foley Square protest will feature villagers from the Ecuadorean Amazon living amidst hundreds of Chevron’s abandoned toxic waste pits that litter the region. They will be displaying bottles of water polluted by Chevron oil operations, as well as images of friends, family, and community members who have died or suffered cancer and similar illnesses from prolonged exposure to petroleum wastewater. The rally is being organized by members of New York’s Ecuadorean community, along with human rights supporters and environmental activists, who will be supporting them with a massive ‘Lady Justice’ figure and other visually arresting props.
Facebook event page: Tuesday, Oct. 15 Foley Square 9 a.m.