Quito, August 23, 2017.- With the resignation of Chevron Corp. CEO John Watson, the Executive Coordinator of the Union of the People Affected by Chevron-Texaco (UDAPT) in Ecuador William Lucitante has expressed his hope that Watson’s successor will act responsibly and put an end to the human rights conflict. The oil company has been sentenced to pay more than 9,5 billion dollars because of the bad practices it implemented in Ecuador.
Although the reason behind Watson’s resignation is not known, it is clear that the shareholders do not trust him and for this reason, during the last AGM held on May 31, three resolutions were proposed to change the company’s policy regarding the Environmental Judgment won by the Ecuadorian plaintiffs. 39% of investors questioned John Watson’s decisions about the Environmental Judgment and asked for the separation of the Chair and CEO positions so that the Board could exercise more control over the actions of the CEO. For the first time, there was an acknowledgment of the serious environmental problems caused by the oil company, such that 20% of shareholders requested the nomination of expert advisers on business and environmental issues. 31% additionally requested an extraordinary meeting to deal specifically with the Ecuadorian environmental lawsuit in view of the risk involved in their investments.
The outgoing corporation’s CEO promoted the merger between Chevron Corp. and Texaco in 1999, despite the litigation in Ecuador, hiding to the shareholders all the relevant information about the judicial process and the possible implications for the investments. His performance generated a conflict of interests: he was aware of the situation in Ecuador and minimized it to the investors, who now face the resistance of the indigenous and peasant communities of the region. It is a trial that has seriously impacted the company’s image.
Contrary to the position of the oil company’s manager and the information he annually delivered to the investors, the trial was not resolved favorably for Chevron and it has been extended beyond Ecuador in Canada, Brazil and Argentina. There is also the risk that the Ecuadorians could seek execution of the sentence in other countries. In addition, the Ecuadorians fighting the Chevron case are supported around the world and they have become an emblem of the environmental struggle throughout the world. The case is studied by important academic centers in the United States and it is discussed in the United Nations for the adoption of a Binding Treaty that will force transnational corporations to comply with the charters, conventions and other human rights instruments.
The policy implemented by Watson related to this case has become a negative legacy for the corporation due to its serious violations of environmental and human rights, demonstrated by the Ecuadorian Courts and also denunciated in Geneva in front of the Human Rights Commission and the International Criminal Court. Despite Chevron’s large investment in campaigns, marketing, lobbying, and even intimidation related to the lawsuit, the damages in the Amazon have already been confirmed in court and continued to be documented by thousands of people, including academics, journalists, environmental and human rights defenders internationally, such that the company cannot evade its responsibility.