THE transnational oil company
Chevronís guilt stands in the eyes of Ecuadorís
justice system, although the amount it must pay
those affected by the contamination left in the
countryís Amazon region by its affiliate Texaco has
the world his oily hand
to launch an international campaign
exposing Chevron. Foto: PESSENZA.
The National Court of Justice ruled
that the U.S. company must pay Amazonia residents
$9.5 billion, significantly less than the $19
billion indemnity imposed by a lower court in Lago
Agrio, in 2011.
According to judges in the countryís
highest court, Ecuadorian law provides no legal
status for public apologies, upon which arguments
were based in the SucumbŪos provincial court to
support doubling the indemnity.
Since punitive damages are not
addressed in national statutes, a public apology
cannot be ordered, and consequently no indemnity for
failing to comply with such an order can be imposed,
the National Court ruled.
The decision to reduce the indemnity
did not affect the residentsí or governmentís
spirits, or their determination to pursue the legal
and media battle to ensure that justice prevails.
The Supreme Court ruling confirmed
Chevron-Texacoís responsibility for the
contamination of Ecuadorís Amazonia region, reported
Foreign Minister Ricardo PatiŮo via his Twitter
account, the first official reaction after the
The events show, he said, that real
separation of powers and an independent judiciary
exist in the country. The news was welcomed by
lawyers representing the close to 30,000 plaintiffs,
members of the Amazonia Defense Front. Legally, this
is an important step and shows that the justice
system in Ecuador functions independently and openly,
one of the groupís attorneys, Pablo Fajardo,
affirmed to the lnational press.
He commented that the ruling
provides important support for legal efforts outside
the country demanding Chevronís compliance.
Complaints against the oil company have been filed
in Canada, Brazil and Argentina.
Another attorney, Juan Pablo SŠenz,
decried the National Courtís reduction of the
indemnity, but nevertheless welcomed the verdict.
It is a victory, he said to the
Andes news agency, because the National Court has
approved the work done by lower courts, vindicating
all the work done to gather evidence.
Chevron has not only refused to pay
the damages, but also sought to cast blame on
Ecuadorís government for the contamination,
presenting charges against the countryís
administration in an international arbitration court.
The company has moreover accused the
plaintiffs of attempted extortion, in a federal
court hearing held in New York, which, according to
the lawyers, was wrought with irregularities and
abuses on the part of Chevron.
In September, the Ecuadoran
government launched a campaign, entitled Chevronís
Dirty Hand, to denounce the environmental damage
caused by the oil company and has invited
international figures to visit areas where Chevronís
predecessor Texaco operated from 1960 until 1992.
According to President Rafael
Correa, the amount of waste oil contaminating
Ecuadorís Amazonia is 85 times greater than that
spilled by British Petroleum into the Gulf of Mexico
Justice, dignity and the truth will
prevail. Chevron will not succeed in defeating
Ecuador. In another tweet, Foreign Minister PatiŮo
reminded the oil company that it picked the wrong