Quito, 9 Abril 2019 – On 30 August 2018, a private arbitration Court issued an arbitration award (within the case known as CHEVRON III), in which the Ecuadorian State was ordered, among other things, to annul the Lago Agrio case judgment, abusing and disrespecting the sovereignty of Ecuador. In other words, it was ordered to the 25-years-long legal action of UDAPT (Union of affected by the oil operations of Texaco – Chevron) against the oil company Chevron Corporation, which was sentenced guilty, to be cancelled, in spite of the fact that the Lago Agrio case, also known as the Aguinda Vs Chevron case, has been the most litigated trial in the history of Ecuador. During the judicial process more than 215,000 trial records were piled up, more than 100 expert reports were submitted, more than 40 testimonies and opinions of affected and witnesses were received, more than 80,000 results of physical-chemical analysis of water and soil were reported. According to all these evidences, the Presidency of the Provincial Court of Justice of Sucumbíos issued the first sentence on 14 February 2011, which was ratified by the Provincial Court of Sucumbíos, on 3 of January 2012. The sentence was ratified in November 2013 by the National Court of Justice and finally in July 2018 received the last definitive ratification from the Constitutional Court of Ecuador. The final judgment of the Ecuadorian Court issued the oil company as the subject required to pay for the reparation of the environmental, social and cultural damage caused by Chevron.
On 30 August 30 2018, nevertheless, a private arbitration panel ordered Ecuador, among other things, to implement the necessary mechanisms in order annul the judgment in the Lago Agrio case, to pay Chevron for the damage caused to the moral and image of the company and to prevent the affected people from exercising the legal enforcement actions outside Ecuador.
The arbitral award is inapplicable and unconstitutional. Many NGOs, indigenous and peasant organizations in Ecuador as well as the international civil society denounced the illegality of the judgment, showing how the Ecuadorian and international civil society play a key role in our struggle. As UDAPT, we stand together with the global campaign for a binding treaty and we support the European campaign against the impunity of MNCs and the ISDS used by international arbitration courts. Several movements and networks, as well as members of Parliament from different countries are following with great concern Chevron’s attacks against Ecuador sovereignty. In fact, the Government’s tendency to comply with the arbitration award can represent a disastrous precedent for victims of human rights violations of transnational corporations at the global level.
The Government of Ecuador, fully submitting to the interests of MNCs and of the international financial system, has tried three times to comply with the arbitration award. The first of these occurred on 6 September 2018, when the Presidency of the Republic, through the Secretary General Eduardo Jurado, asked the Attorney General to request the Office of the Comptroller to initiate audits to establish civil, criminal and administrative responsibilities to the employees of the former Government due to actions or omissions in this case.
In that occasion, as UDAPT and with the support of civil society, we obtained the commitment of the State to respect the judgment of the judicial system of Ecuador and, on 10 December 2018, to file an action in order to annul the arbitration award before the Justice System of the Netherlands.
According to Mr. Willian Lucitante, Executive Coordinator of UDAPT, the arbitration award is a product of the global corporate impunity system. Unfortunately, when the crime is committed by a transnational corporation and the victims are indigenous peoples or peasants, there is no access to justice. This is confirmed by the study and analysis issued by the international lawyer Adoración Guaman.
The second moment occurred in October 2018, when one of Chevron’s lawyers, through former Assemblyman Fernando Torres, included in the bill to reform the General Organic Code of Processes (COGEP), the figure of the appeal for review for non-criminal cases. This bill was made exclusively to benefit the oil company Chevron. According to Donald Moncayo, the reaction of the affected people and citizens managed to block the bill from being approved by the National Assembly.
On 25 February 2019, Minister of Non-Renewable Natural Resources affirmed that the State would remediate for Chevron’s environmental liabilities. We all thought that it was a serious proposal, and that finally the state would engage in a responsible environmental policy in the Amazon, but it turned out that everything was a hoax. The Ecuadorian State does not have any environmental remediation plan, nor for the environmental damage generated by the state company, neither for the damage that has been there since the time Chevron operated in Orellana and Sucumbíos.
On 28 February 2019, UDAPT sent a communication to the Ministry of Non-Renewable Natural Resources, in which it requested the reparation to be clear, serious, responsible and actually for the benefit of the Amazon and the indigenous and peasant peoples. On 20 March 2019, the Minister of Non-Renewable Natural Resources responded to our communication, and made clear that the State does not have any remediation plan. On the contrary, everything is about farce and deception.
For Pablo Fajardo, the lawyer of the affected people, it is evident that the announcement made by the Minister of Non-Renewable Natural Resources, Carlos Pérez, is a desperate try of the Government to comply with the conditions imposed by the Monetary Fund and the oil company Chevron. We also presume that the Ecuadorian State did negotiate with Chevron behind the backs of those affected. This is why we exhort the Ecuadorian State to make the information transparent and, if there was an agreement with Chevron, to reveal it. We want to be clear on the fact that we do not oppose to the reparation but we appreciate it. We do oppose to a further deception, such as the one happened in the year 1995 and 1998, when a false remediation was put into practice.
Humberto Piaguaje, historical leader of UDAPT, remarked that UDAPT is aware that the Ecuadorian State, Petroecuador, Amazonía Viva and Chevron planned to provide an adequate reparation; consequently, UDAPT has been preparing for 4 years to be the protagonists of the repair. “If the state is going to repair, we ask it to show us their plans, as well as we can show our plans and we can draw an excellent comprehensive reparation plan,” concluded Humberto Piaguaje.
Thanks to the support of its allies and of the Ecuadorian and international civil society, UDAPT will continue the struggle that in the last 25 years has showed that through a great participation from below and the spreading of the truth, even a group of peasants and Indigenous peoples can challenge the power of a powerful multinational corporation.
Giulio Fabris: +393396053548 / 0994783199
Ludovico Ruggieri: +393338354082 / 0980333806