Quito, June 22nd, 2017.- The Organization of American States (OAS) stops Chevron from capturing a seat on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) by not electing Douglass Cassel as member. The decision of the OAS was the result of the protest presented to OAS members via an open letter promoted by the Union of People Affected by Chevron/Texaco (UDAPT) and by other social and human rights organizations in Ecuador, such as the Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, INREDH and CDES. The protest had the support of dozens of organizations and personalities from the region and even from other continents.
The letter was signed by Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel as well as regional and global environmental and human rights organizations, from Canada to Argentina. The letter exposed the work done by Cassel, as an adviser to Chevron, in blatant opposition to the defense of the human rights of the indigenous and settler Ecuadorians of the affected territories. The rights of these Ecuadorians have been violated by the oil company since the beginning of its operations in the 60s to the present day, as Chevron refuses to comply with its obligation to pay the sentence issued by an Ecuadorian Court, thus denying the affected any possibility of remediating the contaminated territories and cutting the cycle of harm caused by the unaddressed contamination.
Cassel has played a fundamental role in Chevron’s efforts to evade the Ecuadorian justice system and has placed elements of corporate law, under which the corporation attempts to evade its responsibility, above human rights. The lawyer, who has an extensive academic career, questioned the Ecuadorian plaintiffs and accused them of having no evidence that the toxins of the extractive industry have been the cause of the serious diseases, such as cancer, suffered by the population of the region. On the contrary, reports signed by the IACHR after a visit to the areas of operation of Texaco (now Chevron) in the Ecuadorian Amazon emphasize that the data obtained “attests to the considerable risk to life and human health caused by the activities of oil exploitation in the Amazon.” (Translated from Spanish)*
The decision was recognized by the promoters of the open letter. Willian Lucitante**, Executive Coordinator of UDAPT, considers this to be another battle won for society, in favor of justice, not only for the Ecuadorian Amazonian communities, but for the entirety of the Americas.