Press release from Amazon Watch | April 25, 2014
Oakland, CA – Community leaders from several countries, including indigenous and farmer communities from the rainforest of Ecuador, announced today a worldwide call for global day of actions in opposition to Chevron to be launched during late May just before the company’s 2014 annual shareholders meeting.
The call for action comes from several communities that have suffered the negative impacts of Chevron’s oil operations in five different nations: Ecuador, Argentina, Nigeria, Romania and the United States. Communities from these countries, along with dozens of human rights and environmental advocacy organizations who are backing the effort, announced a global day of action for May 21st that is being called “International Anti-Chevron Day.”
“This is a critical step in the global effort to hold Chevron accountable for its human rights abuses around the world,” said Paul Paz y Miño, Online Director at the environmental group Amazon Watch, which has worked closely with the Ecuadorian rainforest communities that recently won a $9.5 billion court judgment against the company.
The statement signed by the affected communities, which can be found on the website www.antichevron.com, outlines a partial list of Chevron’s human rights and environmental violations and puts out a call for international solidarity for those seeking redress for Chevron’s environmental harm. Some of the demands include:
- Chevron should pay for the pollution and destruction of nature, including terrestrial and marine ecosystems;
- Chevron should respect the affected peoples’ right to self-determination in rejecting the use of fracking and other high-risk operational practices in their territories;
- Chevron should comply with the legal obligations imposed on it by judicial systems in the countries in which it operates, including the judgment in Ecuador that the company refuses to pay after more than two decades of legal battles.
The statement asserts that until Chevron complies with its legal obligations, the affected communities will be calling on all citizens and governments around the world not to purchase any products with the Chevron brand or brands owned by Chevron subsidiaries, including Texaco.
On May 21 – “International AntiChevron Day” — demonstrations against the oil giant are being planned for several countries around the world, said Paz y Miño.
“The affected communities are already receiving a huge amount of support on almost every continent,” said Paz y Miño. “Seventy-eight organizations have already signed in support and we expect that support to grow rapidly once more people hear about Chevron’s misconduct and its persistent refusal to abide by its legal obligations in many of the communities where it operates.”
“What is increasingly clear is that Chevron’s problems around the world are not merely the product of a series of isolated operational shortcomings,” said Paz. “Chevron has a major cultural problem that starts with its CEO, John Watson. There is evidence that Watson encourages a pattern of misconduct that cuts to the very heart of the company’s bottom-line culture that is fundamentally based on greed for ever greater profits, even if they come at the expense of vulnerable communities.”
“The purpose of this citizens’ initiative is to provide a public platform of increased visibility to allow those who suffer or have suffered at the hands of Chevron to raise their voices and be heard around the world,” said Humberto Piaguaje indigenous leader from the Siekopai community of Ecuador, and coordinator of the Union of People Affected by Texaco Petroleum Operations, one of the organizations promoting the call.
Last year, hundreds of protesters at Chevron’s global headquarters near San Francisco called for the firing of Chevron CEO Watson due to his poor leadership and repeated disregard for human rights and the environment, particularly in Ecuador, where the company admitted to dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste into the rainforest. Chevron’s policy of vilifying its victims and disregarding critiques from its own shareholders has increased significantly since Watson took over as CEO and Chair of the Board.
At the company’s annual meeting on May 28, shareholders furious with Watson’s failure to address the company’s human rights problems will vote on four separate resolutions that challenge his authority on the question. In an apparent effort to avoid his critics, Watson for the first time moved the annual meeting from Chevron headquarters near San Francisco to an isolated town in Texas that is a five-hour drive from the nearest metropolitan area, Dallas-Ft. Worth.
Chevron for years has come under attack by growing number of environmental and human rights groups, including 43 U.S.-based advocacy groups that recently criticized Watson for engaging in a legal retaliation campaign against lawyers and advocates who held the company accountable in Ecuador.
The statement by the affected communities makes clear that Chevron has caused widespread and deliberate pollution across the globe, has repeatedly violated environmental safety regulations, and has allied itself with brutal military regimes that are complicit in human rights violations — including the deaths of environmental protesters in Nigeria and the use of forced labor in Myanmar. Rather than address the criticism, Chevron has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on “greenwashing” advertising and aggressive retaliatory legal attacks, according to the statement.
The affected communities and their supporters also accuse Chevron of disregarding the rule of law when it sees fit, abusing systems of justice and attacking the very victims of its environmental crimes when they stand up and challenge the company.
Leaders of the communities and their allies, who are organizing “International Anti-Chevron Day” offered these comments:
“Chevron’s oil extraction activities in the Niger delta communities is leading to environmental degradation and pollution of rivers and farmlands from frequent oil spills and gas flaring and resulting in the destruction of farming and fishing livelihood sources. They substitute operational costs for corporate social responsibility to mislead the people. The crime scene of economic ecocide must be accounted for by the Company and their CEOs.” — Godwin Ojo, Director of ERA/FoEN in Nigeria.
“We thoroughly support Anti-Chevron Day because Chevron has been poisoning the community here in Richmond for over 100 years. Two years ago on August 6, 2012 Chevron’s explosion here sent our people – 15,000 people – to the hospital and now Chevron is applying to expand its refinery which will mean more pollution.” — Torm Nompraseurt of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network in Richmond, CA.
“On August 6, 2012, a massive fire at the Chevron Richmond refinery sent 15,000 people to local hospitals for respiratory problems. In Richmond, like in so many other places throughout the world, Chevron hurts communities on the ground and harms the atmosphere above us. It is important that affected communities everywhere join together in calling for full accountability from this oil giant.” — Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, Richmond, CA
“We join with other organizations around the world calling for Chevron to stand up and be a good corporate citizen and to honor Ecuador’s legal judgment ordering cleanup reparation payment to communities in the Amazon basin of Ecuador that were affected by toxic oil dumping more than 20 years ago.” — Bill Twist, CEO, The Pachamama Alliance
“Chevron’s leadership has brought this upon themselves. Time and again when communities and shareholders have reached out to seek a solution to Chevron’s problems they have been met with legal action aimed at crippling their ability to continue their work. The tactics of this company of suppressing free speech and seeking to crush its critics must be condemned at every opportunity. Communities around the world will continue to rally against Chevron and to demand justice and respect for human rights and the environment. Faced with global outrage, Watson has moved the annual shareholder meeting to rural Texas in hopes of avoiding another massive protest. While Chevron can run, it cannot hide from the communities it poisons nor their supporters.” — Paul Paz y Miño, Amazon Watch, Oakland, CA.
For more information, contact: Paul Paz y Miño, 510.281.9020 ext 302, email@example.com
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