Above: Chevron Protest in Toronto, Canada as part of Global Day of Action Against Chevron
In “Global Day of Action” Communities Protest in Richmond Joining Ecuador, Nigeria, Argentina and Romania in a Call for Solidarity Against Chevron for Environmental and Human Rights Crimes
On May 21st, in an unprecedented global event, communities on five continents took action against Chevron Corporation over the company’s track record on the environment and human rights. The communities, all affected by Chevron operations, united in a call to citizens and governments around the world to reject the Chevron brand or Chevron subsidiaries, including Texaco, until demands for redress and remediation are met.
Community leaders from several countries have made a worldwide call for global day of actions in opposition to Chevron on May 21, 2014 – “International Anti-Chevron Day.” Demonstrations took place in: Ecuador, Argentina, Brazil, Nigeria, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Romania, and Bulgaria.
The actions are taking place just days before Chevron’s annual general meeting where its CEO John Watson is under increasing pressure from shareholders for his company’s environmental record. Watson recently announced he was moving the shareholder meeting from its San Ramon headquarters to a remote town in Texas. In recent years, community leaders from different countries have besieged the Chevron annual meeting with protest, including last year when several called for the firing of CEO Watson due to his poor leadership and repeated disregard for human rights and the environment.
RT reports: “Headquartered in San Ramon, California, Chevron Corporation is active in more than 180 countries and is one of the leading players in the oil, gas, and geothermal energy industries. They are top market leaders in exploration and production, refining, and chemicals manufacturing as well as power generation.”
As part of the international protests against Cheveron, Anne Mahrer,Counselor of the Greens of Switzerland,said:
“…The Greens support the 30,000 peasants and farmers in the Ecuadorian Amazon battling multinational Chevron-Texaco and is indignant that the oil group refuses to pay the fine of $ 9.5 billion it had sentenced an Ecuadorian Court for pollution worsened and impair the health of the Amazonian population…”
“…Of course, we regret that the Government of Ecuador has abandoned the Yasuni initiative and continue oil and mining exploitation at the expense of the preservation of biodiversity and indigenous peoples of the Amazon. But we regret that the international community, which had committed to pay the amount necessary to keep oil in the basement, had not fulfilled its commitments…” (Translated by Bing)
At the International Day of Action Against Chevron event in Geneva fifty people gathered at the Place des Nations in Geneva.The international protest was organised by the Swiss Solidarity Network UDAPT (Union Affected by Oil Operations by Chevron-Texaco) Amazon – Ecuador CETIM and Coordination-Social Climate Justice, the following people spoke: Anne Mahrer, National Councillor Green, Melik Özden, Director CETIM Amanda Gavilanes, on behalf of the Geneva Socialist Party, Gilles Godinat, on behalf of the Coordination Climate- social justice and solidarity.
Melik Özden, Director CETIM:
“Today we are gathered here to express our solidarity with the victims of transnational oil company Chevron. On four continents, hundreds of organizations and social movements are mobilizing to oppose practices of this company. several decades, Chevron pollutes the environment and unscrupulous infringes the rights of the peoples concerned. Sentenced to $ 9.5 billion for the damage caused by Ecuadorian Amazon by courts of Ecuador, Chevron has refused to pay.Instead, the company is launching armies of lawyers and experts to invalidate the judgment and intimidate victims of multiple lawsuits.
“The lack of cooperation of the justice of the state seat Chevron, namely the United States, is an additional obstacle in the path of the victims. For over 20 years, victims of Chevron in the Ecuadorian Amazon are trying to obtain justice for the damage caused by the company to their living environment. Meanwhile, not only the environment is contaminated, but many people continue to die or live with disease, sometimes incurable, such as multiple types of cancer and infections or other problems of the respiratory, reproductive and circulatory.
“Chevron’s case is emblematic in many ways the behavior of transnational corporations elusive legally, and we show, in particular:
1) the devastating effects of the activities of transnational corporations on local populations and the environment when are not governed by binding rules at national and international level;
2) the tortuous path that victims should take to redress;
3) the current economic system favors the interests of transnational corporations at the expense of human rights, labor rights and the environment;
4) lack of political will of States to prosecute and / or execute a sentence of a court in another country where the interests of “their transnational corporations” are at stake today.
“Transnational corporations have become a threat to human rights and democracy. Indeed, the involvement (direct or indirect) of TNCs in violations of human rights is well established. Few hundred transnational corporations dictate most of the production policy and economic and social policies that now threaten not only the real economy, but also the democratic functioning, prevent the enjoyment of human rights of the overwhelming majority of humanity and, in addition, have a detrimental effect on the environment. Meanwhile, transnational companies use complex structures to evade their responsibilities in human rights violations or escape taxation. They also barricaded behind confidentiality to refuse any useful information on their activities, even when they are implicated in human rights violations.
“However, peoples and citizens demand more democracy and transparency not only in the conduct of public affairs, but also in the economy. international law on human rights applicable flawed on transnational corporations. The adoption of mandatory standards at the international level is essential to regulate the activities of these companies to complement and support national efforts. A step in this direction is underway within the Council of Human Rights of the UN. This must be strongly supported by all States, including Western, if they want to cover their sovereignty undermined the power of transnational corporations, and meet their commitments to human rights. It must also be strongly supported by the civil society. While the adoption of binding international standards will not solve overnight the problems posed by transnational corporations, but it is a first step to allow victims access to justice and to fight against the impunity for abuses by transnational corporations.”
Report from Australia protest: The Maritime Union of Australia delivered a letter to the US Consul General asking for a meeting to voice its concerns about the practices of mining giant Chevron. The letter, written by MUA WA Secretary Chris Cain, outlines the union’s concerns about Chevron’s corporate responsibility, both in Australian and the United States. In a recent trip to the US, a delegation found: “What the delegation learnt was that Chevron is very aggressive towards any community, environment or labor group that is active around its operations,” said Mr Cain. They were shocked to learn about what occurred in Richmond, CA: “I was shocked to learn that when the Richmond Refinery had an explosion last year, 14,000 residents went to hospital and almost 17 workers were killed. As a consequence of this, Chevron is now on probation and subject to USD$1 million in fines.”
The MUA had serious concerns about a similar incident occurring in Australia, and had sought a meeting with the Consul General to raise concerns about Chevron’s way of doing business. “We are particularly concerned about Chevron’s actions towards our members working on the Gorgon Project, which is one of the world’s largest natural gas projects,” he said. “Since the start of the project, Chevron has targeted our members by attempting to undermine the wages and conditions for seafarers, stevedores and divers and attempting to avoid employing MUA members or potential members.”
Mr Cain said as the representative of the US government in Perth, the Consul General had a responsibility to encourage US-Australia trade, and needed to understand Chevron’s operations for the perspective of the thousands of workers employed on its projects.
For more information, visit: www.nationalinterest.com.au
Video of Cheveron Protesters in Romania
Protesters holding placards chanting: “Chevron go home!” Protesters chanting: “Chevron go home!”
Protester handing out a flower to police guarding Chevron building. Elderly lady argues with police at protest site: “We don’t want the gas rig there. We want our land as it used to be!” Bird’s eye view of protesters with police at exploratory well site
Protesters singing in protest whilst walking through field
Activists also list a number of human rights violations by Chevron throughout the world. Amazon Watch in their press release says:
“The declaration by the affected communities makes clear that Chevron has caused widespread and deliberate pollution across the globe; has repeatedly violated environmental safety regulations; and has allied itself with brutal military regimes that are complicit in human rights violations, including the deaths of environmental protesters in Nigeria and the use of forced labor in Myanmar. Rather than address the criticism, Chevron has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on “greenwashing” advertising and aggressive retaliatory legal attacks.”