The Chevron corporation caused massive contamination in the Amazon, but refuses to pay compensation even after an Ecuadorean Supreme Court order.
The Supreme Court of Canada is hearing legal arguments on behalf of 30,000 Ecuadorean people who are seeking compensation from the Chevron corporation for its contamination of the Ecuadorean rainforest. The hearing began Thursday.
The plaintiffs are indigenous Ecuadorean people from the Lago Agrio region. Contamination caused by the oil company in that part of the Amazon is estimated to involve over 80 times the amount of oil spilled in the infamous 2010 BP Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.
In 2011 an Ecuadorean court found Chevron responsible and ordered the company to pay billion in compensation.
In 2013 that ruling was held up by the Ecuadorean Supreme Court and set the compensation at US$ 9.5 billion. Chevron, however, refuses to pay and as a result the plaintiffs are seeking to enforce the ruling by seizing Chevron's assets in Canada. Chevron claims that its Canadian subsidiary should not be held accountable for the actions of its parent company.
Raluca Bejan, a member of Anti-Chevron Committee of Canada, a group supporting the plaintiffs' quest for justice, rejects this notion.
“If a global world allows Chevron to operate globally, to pick and choose its countries of interest, to pack up and leave when convenient, we, as people of a global world should also be allowed to globally contest, demand social responsibility across national borders and within national borders,” said Bejan in an interview with teleSUR.
The Supreme Court of Canada will not be deciding if the assets will be seized or not, rather they will decide if Canada is an appropriate jurisdiction for this case.
“This is of extreme importance as it will set a precedent in terms of holding accountable Canadian companies that operate globally, particularly those within the resource extraction industry,” said Bejan.
If the Canadian court does not rule in favor of the indigenous plaintiffs, legal options for them to achieve justice may be running out.
"If Canada is cut off, our clients will have virtually no place to turn to enforce the judgment," said Steve Donzinger, the U.S. based lawyer for the Ecuadorean plaintiffs, in an interview with the Globe and Mail.
A ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada is expected within two to three months.
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