January 13, 2012
“I will continue fighting for rights and justice until the last days of my life.”
That is what 2008 Prize winner Luis Yanza said about the legal battle he and fellow Prize winner Pablo Fajardo been waging against the oil-giant Chevron for nearly 20 years. But it appears that he will not have to wait that long for justice to be served.
In early January, an Ecuadorian appeals court upheld an earlier court decision in the class-action lawsuit, ruling in favor of the 30,000 indigenous plaintiffs and ordering Chevron to hand over $18 billion in damages.
The money will go toward efforts to remediate the lingering effects of the toxic waste that Chevron dumped into the Ecuadorian Amazon for nearly 30 years; including 17 billion gallons of crude oil and 20 billion gallons of drilling waste water. That is nearly twice as much waste as the Exxon-Valdez oil spill, which dumped 10 billion gallons of crude oil into the ocean.
In what has come to be known as the “Amazonian Chernobyl,” dumping resulted in major deforestation, drinking water contamination, and a host of chronic health problems for the indigenous people of that area.
The court’s ruling marks a historic moment for the people of Ecuador and for indigenous communities all over the world.