Quito– The week after the Amazon Defense Coalition (ADC) released a shocking whistleblower report about a former Chevron contractor named Diego Borja caught talking about how Chevron "cooked" evidence in the trial over oil contamination in Ecuador, affected communities have launched an appeal for more people to come forward. Last week, the ADC released recordings made by a friend of Borja's, in which Borja threatened to reveal damaging evidence that he claimed would ensure victory for the Amazon communities unless he received enough money for turning over to Chevron secret videotapes he shot last summer of the judge then overseeing the case.
"We are disturbed by Chevron's apparent fraud and attempts to corrupt the trial," said Pablo Fajardo, lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Chevron. "We are asking that community members, former employees of Chevron Texaco, and anyone who has information about the company's attempts to corrupt the trial or cover up its responsibility for the damage here to come forward."
The affected communities have launched their appeal along with a confidential whistleblower hotline and email, encouraging people to share any information that will benefit the effort to reveal the truth. The confidential hotline number can be reached at 1-877-844-4114, or by email: TexacoCorrupcion@gmail.com
In tandem with the launch of the hotline number and email, the communities are distributing posters in Lago Agrio and other areas around ChevronTexaco's former oil operations in the Ecuadorean Amazon. The communities will also be recording brief promotional spots for local radio programs and posting advertisements in local papers to spread awareness about the initiative.
“It’s the courage and hard work of the affected communities that has enabled us to keep up our long struggle for clean-up of the Amazon, despite Chevron’s attempts to crush our efforts,” said Luis Yanza, coordinator of the Amazon Defense Coalition. “We hope that more brave men and women may step forward to help shed light on ChevronTexaco’s cover-ups and corruption.”
The report released last week by the ADC about former Chevron contractor Diego Borja revealed that Chevron is paying Borja a monthly stipend equivalent to U.S. $10,000/month in Ecuador, and is paying rent on a $6000/month home just minutes from the oil giant’s San Ramon, CA headquarters. In conversations recorded by a friend-turned-whistleblower Santiago Escobar, who has known Borja for fifteen years, Borja brags that Chevron hired him to create four companies so his work for the oil company would appear “independent.” He suggests that the companies were connected to a laboratory to test contamination samples in the oil pollution trial. Borja says on the recordings that the laboratory Chevron used to test samples was not independent, but rather “belonged” to Chevron.
The investigative report also revealed that Borja’s wife, Sara Portilla, worked for Chevron for four years and represented Severn Trent Labs (STL), a U.S. laboratory that Chevron described as an “independent” lab where it had its contamination samples tested. Court documents obtained by the plaintiffs cite Borja and Portilla as representatives of STL. They both signed 'chain of custody' documents with the Lago Agrio court that showed how the samples moved from the contamination site to the testing lab.
Sampling by Chevron as well as the plaintiffs in the case have shown illegal levels of toxic contamination at oil well site waste pits that Chevron claims it remediated. Affected communities point to the persistent oil contamination throughout the rainforest region where ChevronTexaco operated, and in rivers and streams depended upon by thousands for bathing, eating, and drinking.
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