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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Government not involved in Chevron suit

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I was surprised by your editorial "Drilling Chevron in Ecuador" (Comment & Analysis, Monday) calling on theU.S. government to come to the defense of one of the world's biggest oil companies. Chevron certainly has the resources to defend itself without the support of American taxpayers.

Your readers need to understand that neither the U.S. government nor the government of my country, Ecuador, is a participant in this private lawsuit. It was brought by attorneys in the United States and Ecuador on behalf of indigenous tribes that allege their lands were polluted from oil drilling by Texaco, a company Chevron has since absorbed. The suit began in U.S. federal courts and moved to the Ecuadorean courts because Chevronasked the U.S. courts to send the case there.

As a U.S. federal court judge observed only last week, Chevron "like* the Ecuadorean courts when they were in the pocket of the oil companies but now is apparently having second thoughts given the current populist regime."

Simply put, the government of Ecuador has no stake in the outcome of the private environmental litigation, although Chevron seems determined to try to pull us into the case as a legal tactic.

LUIS GALLEGOS

Ambassador, Republic of Ecuador

Washington

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