On Feb. 16, The Washington Times printed one of a series of editorials in support of Chevron that criticized the courts, the executive and the people of Ecuador (“Chevron fights Ecuadorean corruption”).
Chevron is being sued by Ecuadorean citizens, not the government, because Texaco (which Chevron acquired in 2001) purportedly poisoned the lands and streams in the Amazon region, causing death and disease and rendering the land uninhabitable. While the plaintiffs brought the case in U.S. courts, Chevron requested, successfully, that the case be moved to Ecuador. It expressed faith in Ecuador’s courts.
The government of Ecuador is not a party to the environmental litigation, despite attempts by Chevron to pressure it into intervening and shutting down the suit. Six business organizations in which Chevron is influential recently tried to cut off Ecuador’s trade arrangement with the United States, but 26 members of Congress wrote to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to protest this transparent attempt to misuse “U.S. trade agreements … as leverage to interfere in private litigation.”
The prosecutor general and the National Council on the Judiciary of Ecuador are investigating Chevron’s allegations of bribery, so any comment about the guilt or innocence of anyone involved, or of possible complicity by Chevron in an attempted “setup” to derail the case, is premature.
Finally, the criticism of Ecuador’s judicial system is out of date. The current U.S. State Department assessment is that Ecuador’s “[c]ivilian courts and the Administrative Conflicts Tribunal [are] generally considered independent and impartial.”
Chevron should argue its position in the courts, not in press releases and editorial page columns.
Ambassador to the United States for the Republic