On Sept. 23 Chevron Corp., the second-largest US oil company, announced that it had asked the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague to shift responsibility to Ecuador for paying any money that Amazon Basin residents might win in a lawsuit over environmental damage from oil operations. The suit, brought by indigenous Ecuadorians 16 years ago, could result in an award of $27 billion. If Chevron wins in the arbitration court, Ecuador will have to pay the damages, according to Barry Appleton, an attorney who has represented companies in similar cases. “Judgments from this panel are enforceable around the world,” he said.
The new move comes less than a month after Chevron attempted to delay the conclusion of the suit by releasing videotapes that it claimed showed corruption and judicial misconduct in Ecuador. The plaintiffs’ lawyers said on Sept. 24 that with the effort to seek arbitration the company was now playing one of its “last cards.” (Bloomberg News 9/24/09)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Sept. 27