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News > Latin America

Ecuador: Chevron's Victims Urge Gov't to 'Defend National Interest'

  • Pablo Fajardo (l) and Hermelino Criollo (r) during a press conference in 2012.

    Pablo Fajardo (l) and Hermelino Criollo (r) during a press conference in 2012. | Photo: EFE

Published 7 September 2018

According to Fajardo, lawyer for the affected communities, the state needs to mount an effective defense instead of looking for internal culprits.

Pablo Fajardo, lawyer for the Indigenous and Campesino communities affected by Chevron’s environmental and social damage in the Ecuadorean Amazon expressed his concern over recent statements made by the Ecuadorean government and urged the state to “defend national interests rather than corporate interests.”

Arbitration Court in The Hague Rules Against Ecuador, Favors Chevron

In an interview with local news site Ecuadorinmediato, Fajardo said that the government’s reaction to the international arbitration ruling “is tremendously worrying.” Ecuador’s solicitor general, Iñigo Salvador, announced Friday that the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague had ruled against Ecuador, making the country liable to pay Chevron for violating a bilateral investment treaty signed with the United States in 1997, withholding justice from the company, and not providing Chevron with “just and equitable” treatment.   

According to Salvador, the ruling means that Ecuador has the “obligation” to render the Constitutional Court’s ratification of a US$9.5 billion sentence against Chevron for environmental damages null and void.  

Fajardo, however, strongly disagreed with this idea stating: “There is no judicial right for it, these are totally independent things. … In our case Chevron Corporation has to pay what it owes the Ecuadorean Amazon and Ecuador. In its case, it has to defend itself from international arbitration, and hopefully stop signing bilateral investment treaties."

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“Ecuador doesn’t have to pay for the crimes of a private company … We all know that the system of international arbitration is designed to protect corporations, to favor foreign investments,” Fajardo added.

During the solicitor general’s press conference, Salvador said that his office will not hesitate to begin actions against officials who were part of former President Rafael Correa’s government, including the former president himself.

To this Fajardo said: “Instead of looking for culprits, or alleged internal culprits, the state has to defend itself. … If there is any doubt in the government's mind of what Chevron did, come to the Amazon and see the social and environmental crime.”

Fajardo also urged the government to address the “very strong rumors of an agreement on three irritating cases: Julian Assange, Ecuador's relations with Venezuela, and the Chevron case” during United States Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Ecuador in late June.

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