Texaco was the first oil company to drill in the Amazon. To maximize profits, and because they thought they could get away with it, they did not take any steps to protect local communities or the environment from their toxic waste. For a long time, they did get away with it. Then a group of lawyers and organizations worked with locals to sue Chevron, which bought Texaco, and won a $9.5 billion judgment. Chevron refuses to pay and instead has gone after the lawyer, Steven Donziger, in unprecedented ways with a vengeance. We speak with Donziger and Paul Paz y Miño of Amazon Watch. For more information, visit DonzigerDefense.com, MakeChevronCleanUp.com and AmazonWatch.org.
Steven Donziger is a lawyer, writer, former journalist and environmental advocate currently known for leading an unrelenting (24 years and counting) legal battle against Chevron Corporation related to its contamination of the Ecuadorian rainforest. Steven has led a variety of international human rights fact-finding and advocacy projects, served as a public defender, and edited a leading text on criminal justice reform. In the Chevron/Ecuador case, his “Herculean tenacity” (Business Week) is often credited with keeping the case on track for 18 years until his clients prevailed in a complex environmental trial and won a $9.5 billion damages judgment. That judgment has since been affirmed on appeal and by Ecuador’s Supreme Court, and Donziger is now part of efforts to enforce that judgment against Chevron’s assets in jurisdictions around the world, including Canada, Brazil, and Argentina. After winning the judgment, Steven was the main target of campaign of retaliatory litigation by Chevron that the company admitted was designed to “demonize” him. To combat the efforts of Steven and his colleagues, Chevron has deployed a team of 60 law firms and more than 2,000 lawyers and consultants, at a cost conservatively estimated at $2 billion. Chevron’s defense is considered the largest and most expensive such effort in the history of the fossil fuel industry. Read more here.
Paul Paz y Miño joined Amazon Watch in 2007. He has an MA in International Affairs from George Washington University. Since 1995, he has volunteered as Colombia Country Specialist for Amnesty International USA and was the Guatemala/Chiapas Program Director at the Seva Foundation for seven years. Paul has lived in Chiapas, Mexico and Quito, Ecuador, promoting human rights and community development and working directly with indigenous communities. Paul is also an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and served on the board of Peace Brigades International USA.
Follow Paul on Twitter: @paulpaz