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Canadian Labor Union Used in Ecuadorian Government Propaganda

Date: Jan 18, 2016

This week, representatives from the Canadian branch of the Union of Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) became the latest props in the government of Ecuador’s anti-Chevron propaganda campaign in support of the fraudulent lawsuit against the company.

Union representatives, Victor Carrozzino and Paul Meinema, traveled to Ecuador at the invitation of the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and coverage of their visit was akin to the Beatles arriving in the United States.

Their visit was announced with great fanfare by Ecuador’s government. In addition to a flurry of press releases, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Environment and other government sponsored organizations published dozens of Tweets and Facebook posts to lend legitimacy to the visit. Photos were also splashed across the Facebook pages of Santiago Escobar, the Canadian director of Ecuador’s ruling political party.

TAP Photo 1TAP Photo 2

State-run media also covered the trip as if the union leaders were visiting heads of state, with 3 government-run TV networks and a variety of newspapers covering the tour.

TAP Photo 3

This visit begs the following questions:

  1. When so many people have abandoned this scheme – including investors, funders, co-counsel and scientific experts – why is the UFCW allowing itself to be used by Ecuador’s government, who has been condemned by international human rights and press freedom organizations?
  1. Who paid for the union leaders to travel to Ecuador and participate in this government-sponsored trip?
  1. How does the participation in Ecuadorian government propaganda benefit the membership of the UFCW?
  1. Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa and other government officials have repeatedly claimed that the lawsuit against Chevron is a private matter, in which they have no interest or involvement. Why is the government hosting Canadian union leaders while the plaintiffs are seeking to use Canada’s courts to enforce the fraudulent judgment?

The government also announced this week that they plan to pay for more celebrities to participate in their propaganda campaign in support of the fraudulent lawsuit.

In 2014, the Washington Free Beacon revealed that Ecuadorian authorities were footing the bill for celebrities like Sharon Stone, Mia Farrow, Danny Glover and Alexandra Cousteau to travel to Ecuador to join in their anti-Chevron campaign. Ecuador paid over $500,000 to the celebrity’s talent agencies, agreeing to put them up at first class hotels. The government of Ecuador has also paid for international journalists, activists and foreign politicians to travel to Ecuador to take part in the propaganda campaign.

The Ecuadorian government has also paid actors to pose as protestors against Chevron. In May 2014, Businessweek reported that the protesters at Chevron’s 2014 Annual Stockholder Meeting in Midland, Texas, were extras who were paid $85 each. The actors were recruited and paid by a U.S. PR firm contracted by the government of Ecuador for an unprecedented $6.4 million.