This Friday, September 7, 2018, at 08:00 in Ecuador, it is expected that the arbitral tribunal of The Hague will make known the partial ruling in the million-dollar case that Chevron filed against the country.
The government warned on Thursday that it will request repeated sanctions against officials of the previous regime, including Rafael Correa, in case the country loses that litigation. This was said Thursday by Eduardo Jurado, Secretary General of the Presidency, in a surprise statement in which no questions were admitted.
The right of repetition is the reimbursement of monies in case the State is forced to pay Chevron. The inclusion of the name of Correa in the eventual legal actions was a fact specified later, through a bulletin of the Secretary of Communication of the Presidency.
The oil company asked the court in The Hague that Ecuador be responsible for USD 9 500 million of the sentence that was submitted to the firm in 2011, by the Provincial Court of Sucumbíos. That litigation began in 1993, when communities filed a lawsuit for alleged environmental damages against Chevron-Texaco.
The arbitration request of the US oil company was based, among others, on Petroecuador taking responsibility for these environmental liabilities in oil fields, which had operated in the country, something that has been denied by Ecuador. “The immediate consequences of a possible ruling against Ecuador could seriously affect the Ecuadorian economy,” said Jurado, who pointed out that the jury will exhaust all instances within the arbitration case.
According to Jurado, the rights of the State and of the communities “were not defended as it should be”, by the previous Government. And, rather, the case was exploited “to gain political and media prominence.” The official said that the previous administration spent USD 10 million on a national and international communication campaign. It is the “dirty hand of Chevron” that, according to the Presidency, intended to make the country believe that international personalities supported the cause, but “they received a high payment in exchange for their visits with public funds.”
The Secretary, in addition, questioned that the signatures contracted to defend the country were not “up to the task”. Within the amount is a contract for USD 2, 5 million with a company to pay the mobilization of celebrities to the oil fields in the Amazon, and cover their stays.
Also included is the contract with the firm MCSquare, which received USD 6.4 million to manage film actors such as Mia Farrow and Danny Glover to participate in the campaign against the oil company. According to Jury, Farrow received a total of USD 188 000 and Glover USD 330 000. The official noted that all these actions could lead the country to lose the case.
The communities that won Chevron’s trial have appealed to foreign courts to collect those resources, but without success so far. On July 4, an Argentine appeals court rejected the request to execute the ruling in that country.
The judges argued that Chevron Corporation does not have legal domicile or assets in Argentina. In recent months, the courts and tribunals of Brazil and Canada also dismissed the plaintiffs’ orders to execute the judgment of the Ecuadorian court in those territories.
Luis Fernando Molina, one of the lawyers of former president Correa in the Balda case, indicated that the government has not yet begun the corresponding judicial process, so he does not know what actions the former president would take. “It’s just an announcement that we met through the media.”
This newspaper tried to contact by telephone with the ex-State Attorney, Diego García, and the former Secretary of Communication, Fernando Alvarado, but it was not possible. Chevron spokesmen were also consulted via mail. There was no response either, until the closing of this edition. In context Ecuador faces, according to the Government, more than 35 cases of international arbitration.
A part of them is related to litigation filed by foreign oil companies, which have alleged alleged violations of Bilateral Investment Treaties. The litigation between the communities and the oil company has been going on for 25 years. 1993 Settlers from the Amazon filed a lawsuit before a Court in New York, USA, for alleged environmental damages against Chevron-Texaco. 2001 Chevron bought the assets of Texaco, which operated in the country between the 70s and 80s.
With this, the US firm inherited the environmental litigation.
The oil company filed an arbitration claim in the Court of The Hague to endorse Ecuador a possible judgment against it, in local courts.
At the request of the firm, the case was transferred to the Court of Sucumbíos, which established an indemnity of USD 9,500 million in favor of the affected communities.
The case went to the National Court of Justice in Quito, to continue with the legal process between both parties. In 2013, this Court ratified the ruling.
In July, the Constitutional Court denied the protection action filed by Chevron. It was the last resort in the country to stop the collection of the sentence. (I)