Internationalist solidarity with Ecuadorian peoples affected by Chevron's criminal operations
Chevron in Ecuador: transnational impunity and peoples' rights violations.
For more than 30 years, indigenous peoples and peasant communities in Ecuador have been fighting against pollution and dispossession of their territories in the Ecuadorian Amazon, caused by oil exploitation. The transnational corporation leading these oil operations is Texaco(known today as Chevron). It is directly responsible for serious violations of peoples’ rights and human rights. Despite Chevron’s operations being condemned in the High Court, the corporation refuses to comply with the judges’ decisions, generating one of the most condemnable cases of corporate impunity of our time.
30 years of struggle against Chevron in Ecuador
In Ecuador, the struggle against Chevron has been going on for more than 30 years. Since 1993, communities affected by the company’s oil operations have been taking legal action for the environmental damage caused in the provinces of Sucumbíos and Orellana. Friends of the Earth Ecuador (known locally as Unión de Afectadas/os por Operaciones Petroleras de Texaco en el Ecuador/UDAPT) (1) have played an important role in the struggle to bring Chevron to justice and make the company answer for its crimes to the affected peoples.
In the early 1990s, the oil company invaded the territory of indigenous peoples of the Amazon region, destroying more than 480 hectares of one of the most biodiverse rainforests on the planet. Moreover, oil pollution and oil flares in the vicinity of towns have put people's health at risk. The oil exploitation led by Chevron in Ecuador infringed fundamental human and collective rights such as the right to clean water, to a healthy and ecologically balanced environment, to health, to life, to culture, to the customs and cosmology of nations, to economic development and to the self-determination of peoples. The Ecuadorian courts and high courts have ruled four times in favour of the affected peoples, but the oil company managed to put enough pressure on the government to evade compliance with these rulings and circumvent justice. In recent years, with a new government in Ecuador driven by neoliberal principles, the state has acted in collusion with Chevron, and against UDAPT and the affected communities.
In addition, Chevron has filed three lawsuits against the Ecuadorian state before international arbitration tribunals. The architecture of impunity built by the global neoliberal system to protect the interests of transnational corporations has halted processes of reparation and restoration for affected communities and the Ecuadorian Amazon. It has also unleashed a fierce campaign of persecution against the movement of people demanding justice, reparation and an end to the crimes.
Demanding a binding treaty on business and human rights to stop corporate impunity
To support peoples' struggles against these kinds of injustices, Friends of the Earth International, together with the Global Campaign to Reclaim Peoples Sovereignty, Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity, is calling for an international legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and human rights that will hold transnational corporations accountable for their crimes. In 2014, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted Resolution 26/9 and established an Intergovernmental Working Group (IGWG) to develop this binding treaty, which will ensure the necessary and sufficient conditions to prevent corporate impunity and guarantee rights for peoples and rules for corporations.
Through our Internationalist Solidarity System, we stand with Ecuadorian peoples and denounce the systematic violations going on in Ecuador at the hands of transnational corporations with the complicity of the neoliberal government.
(1) UDAPT is an organisation made up of six indigenous nations (Siekopai, Siona, Cofanes, Kichwa, Shuar, Waorani) and more than 80 peasant communities based in the polluted territories.
Follow the links below to read more about peoples’ struggles against Chevron in Ecuador on the Friends of the Earth Latin America and the Caribbean (ATALC) website (in Spanish):
ATALC expresses its deep indignation and vehemently rejects the events that took place on 26 April 2023 in Ecuador, in which the Minister of Energy and Mines, Fernando Santos Alvite, criminalised the struggle of Ecuadorian peoples concerned about gas flaring in oil fields in the Amazon and its consequences for human health. Invited to speak at a session of the Commission of Constitutional Guarantees and Human Rights, the minister not only failed to address his responsibility towards those communities but also attacked their lawyer, Pablo Fajardo, calling him an "international delinquent".
Those affected by the operations of Chevron in Ecuador have appealed to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), denouncing the Government of Ecuador for obstructing and jeopardising proper execution of the court sentence and reparation of areas affected by pollution from Chevron’s extractive activities in the provinces of Orellana and Sucumbíos.
Denouncing the murder of Eduardo Mendúa in Ecuador. February 2023
ATALC denounces the murder of Eduardo Mendúa, leader of International Relations for the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) and member of the Kofán nation of Sucumbíos, on 26 February 2023.
Urgent Solidarity with UDAPT. February 2023
ATALC declares deep concern about the threats, attacks and persecution suffered by members of UDAPT/Friends of the Earth Ecuador.
The National Strike called by the Confederation of Indigenous Nations of Ecuador (CONAIE) and other local collectives and social organisations resulted in repression by the right-wing government headed by Guillermo Lasso. In view of this, ATALC expresses solidarity with the peoples and rejects the attacks against them, as well as the exploitation and impunity that have led to those episodes.
On the occasion of the 200-year anniversary of independence for Ecuador (the Bicentennial of the the Battle of Pichincha on 24 May), Donald Monacayo received the Manuela Sáenz award and the medal of merit of the Tránsito Amaguaña for his tireless struggle to achieve environmental and social justice against Chevron-Texaco. On the same day, Alex Lucitante and Alexandra Narváez received the prestigious Goldman Award for their struggle with the Sinangoe community against mining activity.
Members of the UDAPT who are signatories of the lawsuit against oil company Chevron are now facing an investigation for bribery of Judge Nicolás Zambrano, who ruled in the first instance in favour of the indigenous people and settlers affected by the pollution. This investigation by the Public Prosecutor's Office has been promoted by the State Prosecutor, Íñigo Salvador, to protect Chevron's interests.
ATALC stands in solidarity with the just struggles of the Ecuadorian people, who have mobilised on the streets against policies of adjustment, plunder and re-colonisation imposed by the International Monetary Fund with the approval and complicity of the government of Lenin Moreno.
Watch / listen
UDAPT files lawsuit with the IACHR; interview with legal advisor Julio Prieto. March 2023
Ecuador: "Even after the court sentence, permits to burn liquefied gas are still being granted". Interview with Donald Moncayo, after UDAPT was recognised for its tireless socio-environmental struggle (ES). July 2022
National strike in Ecuador: people on the streets. Report by Viviana Rojas, Via Campesina International. June 2022
Pablo Fajardo from UDAPT: “In the Ecuadorian Amazon there are over 200 oil spills per year”. March 2022
Ecuador: Justice orders oil company to turn off flares and stop polluting. New victory for UDAPT in the defence of the Ecuadorian Amazon, despite pressure from transnational companies. October 2021