Back in 2006 Amazon Watch traveled to Davos, Switzerland to accept the Public Eye Award on behalf of Chevron. At the doors of the World Economic Forum, this shaming award was created to call out corporations responsible for the most egregious violations of human rights or the environment. Chevron won on both counts. At the time, the trial in Ecuador was still under way, but the saga of this epic pursuit for justice by the affected communities in Ecuador was already over a decade old.
Last Friday Amazon Watch returned to Davos to attend the 16th and final Public Eye Award ceremony where the international web community awarded Chevron the Lifetime Award for its disaster in Ecuador and subsequent efforts to evade responsibility. Nominees for this prestigious title were chosen from previous Public Eye recipients. Chevron was the clear “winner” however, having broken new ground in efforts to suppress free speech, attack critics and devote millions to a campaign of retaliation against its own victims.
It’s hard for many to fathom just how long this tragic case has been unfolding. Chevron (then operating as Texaco) began its deliberate and systematic pollution of the Amazon and poisoning communities only months after JFK was shot. Since that time close to a thousand toxic waste pits were created over an area the size of Rhode Island, affecting 30,000 people and creating a death toll that has already crossed well over a thousand lives (and is expected to cause up to 10,000 more). Chevron has had 18 years of litigation to defend itself, but because of the overwhelming evidence still visible today, it’s failed time and again. Chevron’s leadership has made a conscious decision to never pay and has declared that regardless expense (now estimated at $2 billion), it will continue to fight “until hell freezes over.”
That approach and the dirty tactics to crush critics, vilify suffering communities and demonize human rights lawyers has earned Chevron this award. The bogus RICO action in the United States – with no basis in law and soon to be overturned – is nothing more than a PR stunt to draw out the narrative that Chevron is the victim. The conspiracy theory espoused by Chevron and its lawyers would actually rival some of the wackiest JFK assassination theories.
Worse still is the fact that Chevron’s ability to continue dragging out this fight for justice is a threat to the fabric of our society. The ability to litigate in perpetuity must never be an effective path to evade justice. Chevron is hoping to outlast everyone, and it has the means to do it, unless we unite to prevent that from happening.
Fortunately for the Ecuadorians, the story of Chevron’s RICO attack on it does not play outside of the US, where Chevron has the favor of business press to tell its side of the story. The Public Eye Award serves as a reminder that the global community has never been fooled by Chevron. The affected communities will continue to seek justice outside the US and seek to enforce the legitimate Ecuadorian verdict in Canada, Argentina, Brazil and perhaps even Europe. It will continue to find a supportive global community who knows Chevron to be the worst example of corporate greed and arrogance.
Amazon Watch is honored to take the Public Eye Lifetime Award to Chevron’s HQ in San Ramon, CA, where we will remind the corporation and the world that it has been globally recognized as the worst corporate actor on the planet. Twice. The Ecuadorians continue to suffer from toxic pollution, but the rest of the world will not swallow PR lies and bogus legal attacks. Chevron has declared itself a threat to the environment, human rights and the pursuit of justice itself. Enough is enough.