From Richmond, CA to Ecuador to Romania, communities impacted by oil giant Chevron’s operations are rising up to demand justice. Chevron’s response in each case has been consistently irresponsible: Deny any wrongdoing, cover up the extent of corporate malfeasance and environmental contamination, and go on the offensive against anyone demanding the company take responsibility for its messes.
But lately, the company has really been on a tear, taking its anti-democratic attacks to bold new heights.
No one knows this better than Steven Donziger, the US lawyer who has worked with the Indigenous and rural communities of the Ecuadorian Amazon who are seeking to hold Chevron accountable for its massive oil pollution in their rainforest home. Chevron is, put simply, out to destroy Donziger for the crime of having a conscience and speaking up.
After Donziger helped 30,000 Ecuadorean plaintiffs sue Chevron in a US court in 1993, lawyers for Texaco (which was bought by Chevron in 2001) successfully argued that the proper jurisdiction was Ecuador. The plaintiffs re-filed their lawsuit in the oil company’s preferred venue in 2003, and secured a $19 billion verdict against Chevron last year.
Chevron then promptly refused to pay, alleged the verdict was the product of fraud, and attempted to have the whole case re-tried by proxy back in the US.
In a move that almost defied logic - and certainly defied all precedent - Chevron’s lawyers filed a RICO suit–that’s RICO as in the anti-racketeering law used by the Justice Department to bring down organized crime syndicates–against Donziger and others working to bring Chevron to justice.