Ecuador’s State-Sponsored Activism Continues in the U.S.
Earlier this year, we documented how the government of Ecuador was waging a campaign of state-sponsored activism and judicial intimidation against both Chevron and an International Arbitration Tribunal that was considering denial of justice claims by Chevron against the Republic of Ecuador. The campaign, financed and organized by the government of Ecuador, included the bussing of hundreds of protestors to Washington DC in April to protest outside of the World Bank, where the tribunal was holding a hearing under the auspices of the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) between the United States and Ecuador.
Recently, the Washington Free Beacon revealed the extraordinary measures that the government of Ecuador took to
stage-manage protests on U.S. soil. An official government report confirms that Ecuador’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility worked with consuls, expatriates, political leaders, embassy and foreign ministry staff to devise “a strategy for action, dissemination, and denunciation that has a bearing on the meetings about Chevron…”, as well as plans to get “expatriates to join and resume [the] campaign against Chevron.” The Free Beacon also reported that promotional materials criticizing Chevron and distributed at the protests bore the seal of Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry.
It is worth noting that Ecuador President Rafael Correa’s political party, Alianza PAIS, also played a central role in organizing the protests. Alianza PAIS aggressively promoted the Washington protest through its social media channels (see here, here and here), and Maria Luisa Jacome Garcia, the director of Alianza PAIS USA, was one of the main speakers at the protest (see here and here).
Other media, including Hot Air, picked up on the story and questioned whether the Government of Ecuador also paid the protesters, either directly or by way of financing travel and accommodations. While the Ecuador government report does not provide details on that question, there is ample evidence that protestors in nine North American cities were promised free transportation to Washington (see here, here and here).
This is just the latest example of how the government of Ecuador has organized and funded an international smear campaign against Chevron. Last year, it was revealed that Ecuador had signed a $6.4 million contract with a U.S. PR firm to coordinate a campaign against the company. Through that contract, Ecuador and its PR firm used a New York City-based casting agency to recruit and pay actors to attend an anti-Chevron protest in New York City, and pay people to attend another protest outside the company’s Annual Stockholder Meeting. Ecuador also paid more than $500,000 to talent agencies for celebrities like Sharon Stone, Mia Farrow, Danny Glover and Alexandra Cousteau to travel to Ecuador to join in their anti-Chevron campaign – agreeing to put them up at first class hotels during their stay.
In March, 2014, Judge Lewis Kaplan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that the $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron in Ecuador was the product of fraud and racketeering activity, finding it unenforceable in the United States and holding Steven Donziger, the lead lawyer behind the lawsuit, liable for RICO violations. During the trial, more than a dozen former insiders and allies testified against Donziger, including his former co-counsel, environmental consultants, funders, employees and Ecuadorian collaborators. Since the trial, other former funders, investors, and legal counsel have also abandoned this illicit scheme.
Ecuador’s politicians are staging anti-Chevron events around the globe because it is easier and cheaper than addressing the environmental and social conditions in the Amazon for which they are responsible. It’s time for Ecuador to abandon the state-sponsored stunts and address the environmental conditions left by the state-owned oil company, Petroecuador.