By Richard McCluskey, Oregon People’s Newsletter - November 17, 2021 - Reprinted with permission.
Between 1967 and 1992 Texaco (now Chevron) conducted oil drilling operations in the Oriente region of the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador while blatantly ignoring normal waste regulations in order to save an estimated $2 a barrel. During that time they dumped an estimated 16-18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater into rivers and pits thereby polluting the streams, groundwater, and farm land of the region. A year later the drilling had ceased but the environmental devastation remains to this day.
That same year Steven Donziger, a young lawyer just out of Harvard Law School, accepted and filed a 30,000-member class-action lawsuit against Texaco on behalf of the Ecuadorian victims and the case was filed in New York Federal court. In 2000 Chevron acquired the assets and the liabilities of Texaco then fought and won a change of venue to a court in Ecuador.
After eight years and overwhelming evidence, the court in Ecuador issued an $18 billion judgment against Chevron, on behalf of the 30,000 victims.
Although the punitive damages were later reduced to $9.5 billion, the decision against Chevron was confirmed by Ecuador’s Supreme Court. In response, Chevron sold its assets in Ecuador, left the country, and refused to pay. Since then, Chevron has waged an over $2 billion campaign of retribution against those who’ve challenged their rapaciousness. Chevron has even taken over a US federal court in New York. Chevron’s accomplice in this mockery of justice is Judge Lewis Kaplan, appointed to the United States District Court by Bill Clinton in 1994. Unable to coerce any US federal prosecutor to take up Chevron’s case against Steven Donziger, Kaplan appointed the law firm of Seward & Kissel to prosecute in our name. Even though prosecuted by Chevron’s lawyers and not the US Attorney General, the case was titled the United States v. Donziger. Joe Biden’s US Attorney General Merrick Garland has refused to take over the case and continues to allow this sham to continue.
Steven Donziger was sentenced on Friday October 1st, 2021 by Kaplan’s appointed federal judge, Loretta Preska, to six months in federal prison on contempt charges for refusing to turn over to Chevron his computer and cell phone which both contain confidential information legally protected under lawyer-client-privilege. In her sentencing of Steven Donziger, Judge Preska chose to ignore a report that arrived days earlier from the United Nations’ Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions. The report included the statement; “The Working Group considers that, taking into account all the circumstances of the case, the appropriate remedy would be to release Mr. Steven Donziger immediately and accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law.”
Steven Donziger was held under house arrest for over two years on a misdemeanor charge that carries a maximum sentence of 6 months, and has now been convicted in Chevron’s Court to an additional six months in federal prison. On October 27, Steven reported to a federal prison in Danbury, CT. Earlier that day, on Democracy Now, Donziger said, “My imprisonment is a way to try to intimidate other lawyers and activists. It will backfire.”
Want to help? Start here; https://www.freedonziger.com
Richard McCluskey @rhmccluskeypdx
Image: Jennifer Taft, Pandemic Duck News
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