November 13, 2012
In an effort to enforce Ecuador’s $18 billion ruling against Chevron, an Argentine judge signed an order to freeze almost all of Chevron’s $2 billion assets in that country.
“Seizure actions will continue to be filed against Chevron assets in more countries to make sure the full amount of the judgment is collected,” said 2008 Goldman Prize winner Pablo Fajardo, the lead Ecuadorian lawyer for the case.
Fellow 2008 Goldman Prize winner and community organizer, Luis Yanza said, “We are committed to holding Chevron fully accountable for the crimes it has committed against our indigenous peoples.”
Fajardo and Yanza were awarded the Goldman Prize in 2008 for their decades-long fight to bring justice to the indigenous communities of the Lago Agrio region of Ecuador, where Texaco (which was acquired by Chevron in 2001) continuously dumped toxic waste for nearly 30 years.
In the aftermath of what came to be known as the ‘Amazonian Chernobyl,’ local communities suffered from extreme health problems such as cancer, birth defects and deformities due to contaminated water and soil. Today, cancer rates continue to soar as pollution exposure remains a serious threat.
Fajardo and Yanza celebrated a victory earlier this year, when an Ecuadorian appeals court upheld an earlier court decision ruling in favor of the 30,000 indigenous plaintiffs and ordering Chevron to hand over $18 billion in damages.
Chevron has since refused to pay, with one former lawyer infamously claiming, “Chevron will fight the Ecuador judgment until hell freezes over, and then skate it out on the ice.”
The company suffered another blow in October when the US Supreme Court rejected Chevron’s appeal to block enforcement of the Ecuadorian ruling. The first step to such enforcement is now underway, thanks to Argentina’s recent action.
Melina Selverston-Scher, Program Officer for South and Central America at the Goldman Prize, commented, “Chevron can’t keep running – it has to clean up the Ecuadoran rainforest. This decision is a call from Latin America to hold international corporations accountable for destroying the environment.”