The struggle of Ecuador’s native peoples against deadly “mecheros” and oil dumping

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Saturday, October 26, 2019
Pablo Fajardo, a lawyer who has been assisting victims of environmental crimes committed in Ecuadorean Amazonia by Chevron Texaco multinational oil company for 26 years, is currently in Italy. SIR met him during an event in Rome.

Pablo Fajardo (Foto: Massimiliano Cochi)

Water polluted by 68 billion litres of toxic oil waste dumped into 880 poisonous, black and slimy waste pools, which one can actually walk on. The “mecheros” (furnaces that burn up gases released during oil extraction) cause upstream flaring with temperatures up to 100 degrees Celsius, destroying the surrounding natural environment. Indigenous peoples are on the verge of extinction because the vital link with nature has been broken. A land of forests and rivers in the Ecuadorian Amazonia has been devastated for 26 years as a result of oil extraction by oil multinational Chevron Texaco. The long history and the judicial vicissitudes are known and debated. In 2001 an Ecuadorian ruling sentenced the oil company to compensate the victims with 9.5 billion dollars. An arbitration court in The Hague ordered Quito’s authorities to compensate the American corporation for violations of an investment agreement signed in the 1990s with the United States and subsequently Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno asked the courts of Argentina and Canada to prevent the judgement condemning Chevron in Ecuador from being enforced abroad.

William Lucitante, popolo Cofan.

Now the indigenous organizations, defended by the lawyer Pablo Fajardo, are attempting complex negotiations at the UN in Geneva, requesting a binding legal instrument that will restore justice to the victims of natural disasters caused by these corporations. “In the first meeting EU officials left the room – reported Fajardo -.  They said that there is no need for a treaty and that the basic principles of international law are sufficient. But the rights of the natural environment, of the peasants and of peoples are not binding for the States, as opposed to economic and commercial rights. So the question is: in our world, what matters the most: money or human life?”.
[Patrizia Caiffa – SIR]