As a Government, we do not agree with Chevron, says the owner of the Environment of Ecuador

As a Government, we do not agree with Chevron, says the owner of the Environment of Ecuador



The owner of the Environment of Ecuador, Humberto Cholango, defended that his government "did not agree" with the oil company Chevron, to which the Ecuadorian State must pay compensation, according to an arbitration award last month on one of the largest disputes by environmental pollution.

"In the Chevron case, we want to say with absolute clarity: We as a national government do not agree with anyone, less with Chevron," the minister, who has been in office for just over a month, said in an interview with Efe. the scope of indigenous and ecological activism.

Also in charge of the National Water Secretariat, an entity that must now merge with the powers of the Ministry of the Environment, Cholango, the only indigenous minister in Lenin Moreno's cabinet, assures that in the dispute with Chevron the State will defend itself "from the true".

The case began in 1993 as a result of complaints filed by indigenous communities and peasants affected by oil spills from Texaco, acquired in 2001 by Chevron, in the Ecuadorian Amazon basin between 1964 and 1990.

A judgment issued in 2011 by a court in Lago Agrio, Ecuador, estimated the compensation that the company had to give to the affected people at 9,500 million dollars.

But the oil company appealed and litigated before an international arbitral court in The Hague, which ruled in favor of Chevron to consider that the ruling of Lago Agrio dragged irregularities such as fraud, bribery and corruption.

"Chevron maliciously wants to induce the Ecuadorian State towards an irresponsible sanction, which would cost Ecuador an infinity of resources," said Cholango, on compensation for damages to the company, which should be fixed in the future.

At the moment, the Ecuadorian Executive has not officially pronounced on the matter and it is the Attorney General's Office that analyzes the actions of the lawyers hired by the State for their defense in the arbitration process to which Ecuador submitted.

If negligence were to be demonstrated, Ecuador analyzes the possibility of exercising the "right of repetition", a judicial remedy that seeks the reimbursement of the money that the State is obliged to pay for convictions issued against it and that originate from a bad performance of officials or individuals.

Cholango reiterates that, although he considers that the case concerns only "those affected and the Chevron company", the Government insists that they will continue "giving all the legal and legal battles that are (necessary) in the international field."

"The only resource we have is the truth: that the Amazon is contaminated, there are the diseases, the polluted rivers, the levels of poverty that they left behind, the devastation," he argues.

The Ecuadorian Executive has pointed to possible responsibilities of the judicial authorities or defenders in the case that was elucidated during the previous Government of Rafael Correa (2007-2017).

But he remains mute regarding the fact that the award has invalidated sentences handed down by Ecuadorian courts, which ordered the payment of reparations for the oil spill that caused serious ecological damage in the Ecuadorian Amazon basin.

Both the Ombudsman's Office and civil organizations representing those affected, have expressed concern about the violation of human rights and nature that may arise from the award.

Apart from the litigation, on Friday the Ministry of the Environment signed an agreement with the twelve nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon to promote a model of public-community management.

Former President of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador and the Kichwa Confederation of Ecuador (Ecuarunari), Cholango says he has a strong commitment to indigenous communities, but also State responsibility in its management.

"It is obvious that the territories that are inhabited by the indigenous communities are territories where oil, mining, water, and great biodiversity are, there is the natural wealth," says Cholango.

But he regrets that in those sectors are also recorded the highest rates of poverty and exclusion, a situation that from his portfolio seeks to change, so that the guardians of 80 percent of the planet's biodiversity, the indigenous, can benefit from sustainable development.

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