August 11, 2020

New setback for Ecuador in the case against Chevron due to contamination | Society



The Dutch Supreme Court has rejected a claim brought by Ecuador against the US oil company Chevron for environmental contamination in the Amazon rainforest. The Ecuadorian government demanded compensation from the company of 9,500 million dollars (8,400 million euros) for the alleged dumping of toxic waste in the canton of Lago Agrio. In 2011, the sanction was imposed by a judgment of the Ecuadorian Supreme Court. Chevron refused to pay, and in 2018, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, based in The Hague, gave the reason to the company. Now you must decide the amount of compensation that corresponds to pay to the Government of Ecuador. Quito tried to get the Dutch Supreme Court to annul the arbitration ruling, arguing that it was a matter of public order. The Dutch judges have not seen it that way.

The Chevron case has been around for 25 years by various international judicial instances, since the refusal of the oil company to compensate some 30,000 plaintiffs, who first came to the judges in 1993. They were residents of the province of Sucumbíos, in the Amazon region of Ecuador, and identified Texaco Petroleum as the cause of the contamination. The company extracted crude there between 1964 and 1992, and supposedly left 68,000 liters of toxic waste in the jungle. Those affected sued Chevron in a court in New York, and attributed to their practices the health problems, cancer and birth defects that they suffered. Chevron, which bought Texaco in 2001, says that by 1995 the area had been cleaned up, and Texaco was exonerated of any additional liability. Once the case was lost in the United States, in 2003 a new lawsuit was filed, this time against Chevron-Texaco and before the Ecuadorian Superior Court of Nueva Loja. There they gave the reason in 2011: the oil company had to pay 9.500 million dollars.

The judicial pilgrimage did not end there, because the controversy reached the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which resolves cases outside the ordinary jurisdiction, but in accordance with international law. The arbitrators annulled the sentence of the Ecuadorian Supreme Court because, they said, it had been obtained "through fraud, bribery and corruption." There was also "denial of justice to the oil company and violation of the principle of fair and equitable treatment." The latter assumption is contained in the Bilateral Investment Treaty signed with the United States, designed to promote economic cooperation and respect for the investments made by both companies. parties in the territory of the other, the Arbitration Court ordered Ecuador "to refrain from trying to execute said judgment [local] Anywhere in the world [donde opere Chrevron] under international law. "The judges of the Dutch Supreme Court have now confirmed that decision.

The Ecuadorian government has tried to have the ruling of its Supreme Court judges, in 2011, confirmed by other courts in countries where Chevron does business. With little luck, since he lost in the United States (2014), Gibraltar (2015), Argentina and Brazil (2017). Anyway, the Executive of Lenin Moreno is not willing to cover the invoice of a matter inherited from the Administration of his predecessor, Rafael Correa. The compensation of international arbitration can be a millionaire, and in 2018 Moreno announced that he would demand from Correa and his collaborators responsibilities for not having defended, "as is appropriate in international law," the national interests. The secretary of the presidency also accused "the previous government of using the case to gain international prominence."

As soon as the case reached the Ecuadorian Supreme Court, the Ministry of the Environment launched a campaign to show the world "the dirty hand of Chevron", where he claimed to have pointed out "more than a thousand polluting pools in the Ecuadorian Amazon". "What Chevron caused in our jungle is 85 times worse than what British Petroleum did in the Gulf of Mexico and 18 times more serious than the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska," the ads said. They added that everything could have been avoided because "there are already technical improvements, but to save money, this company used primitive methods, contaminating". In 1964, Texaco arrived in Ecuador to extract oil in an area of ​​1.5 million hectares of forest, and according to the defense of 30,000 original claimants, it filled 1.5 million barrels. After its merger with Texaco in 2001, Chevron became the fourth largest oil company in the world and the second in the United States, after Exxon Mobil. Chevron extracts, produces and transports crude oil and natural gas. It is headquartered in California.

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