Last week, we posted a blog entry that detailed two recent Petroecuador spills. In the post we asked why the Amazon Defense Front, Amazon Watch and the Rainforest Action Network have never condemned Petroecuador for the company’s spills and ongoing environmental mismanagement.
After learning about the spills, these groups, who claim to “work to protect the rainforest and advance the rights of indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin” largely remained silent. No press releases issued. No press conferences held. No campaigns mobilized. No lawsuits filed. Instead, only Amazon Watch spoke up, choosing to respond by blog post. Below is an excerpt from the posting, where the author states that the Amazon Defense Front has in fact gone after Petroecuador:
“First of all, the Amazon Defense Coalition – or the Frente – as well as indigenous groups throughout the area have in fact gone after Petroecuador and other oil companies operating in the region on numerous occasions, demanding clean-up of spills, and a general increase in responsible operations.”
This is a dubious claim as we know of no instance in which the Frente has taken on Petroecuador for its operational practices. In fact, a lawyer for the Frente, Pablo Fajardo, is on the record calling for Petroecuador to stop its long overdue remediation work in the region because it was hurting his case against Chevron. The Frente assuming such a position is not especially surprising since it is the named financial beneficiary of the lawsuit in Ecuador. Moreover, another lawyer for the Frente, Cristobal Bonifaz, told reporters in Ecuador that his clients had provided a sworn declaration to the government of Ecuador that they would refrain from suing Petroecuador in return for the government’s assistance with their lawsuit.
Meanwhile, Amazon Watch has continually turned a blind eye to events in Ecuador. Could that be explained by the fact that Amazon Watch has been continually funded by the American trial lawyers suing Chevron? Could this ongoing financial relationship also explain why Amazon Watch has never called on Petroecuador to clean up its portion of the oil fields, as the company has repeatedly promised to do?
Rather than provide factual information to support its claims, Amazon Watch resorts to the “trust us” retort.
Until there is evidence of these groups going after Petroecuador, one has to question if these lawyers and activists really are advocates of the environment and the indigenous people they claim to represent. Maybe they are more interested in taking Chevron to the cleaners than actually cleaning up the Amazon.