Chevron’s RICO Suit: An Exercise in High Satire?

By Rainforest Action Network
Kichwa and Chevron's oil pollution
Members of the indigenous Kichwa community of Rumipamba with Chevron's oil pollution

Oh, the irony. Chevron filing a racketeering lawsuit against the impoverished Indigenous and campesino Amazon residents who are suing the oil giant in Ecuador for plundering their rainforest land over several decades of reckless oil drilling would be all too fitting for the satiric geniuses at the Daily Show — if it weren’t nauseatingly insulting.

But we don’t have to wait for the Daily Show to report on the matter to see how folks in Ecuador reacted to the news that Chevron is now suing them. Check out the clips below.

The first is from Lidia Alejandra, who lives in the Indigenous Kichwa community of Rumipamba. Lidia makes an emotional plea for Chevron to “stop harassing the plaintiffs” and even invites Chevron executives to drink the contaminated water.

[youtube KQVFU5Fpj8w 550]

And check out Maria Reascos, also a plaintiff, from the settler community of Pimampiro, where there are about a dozen oil wells and crude oil waste pits formerly operated by Texaco (now Chevron).

[youtube uNOWSpmx6ro 550]

Here’s the transcript of Lidia’s video:

We are some of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, from the community of Rumipamba, via El Auca, on kilometer 58, Dayuma Parish.

We live here in a very, very contaminated area – the air, the land, the water. We in the community are all suffering, affected by this contamination that Texaco left. We want to clean up the oil, but there’s a huge mound of oil, mixed with the soil.  Since many years have passed, the oil has been buried for more than twenty years with mud and branches. We are suffering with many illnesses – the women ,the men, the children. This is why we’ve been fighting for seventeen years, this is why we’re asking Texaco to surrender. They’re the ones who are guilty of all of this. We are asking them to stop harassing the plaintiffs.  We have proof, for the seventeen years that Texaco left their contamination here, we have enough proof. They should come here and we can prove it. We can give the executives a glass of water and see if they’ll drink it, the way we have to live, drinking this contaminated water.

Previously the rivers were very clear, they were very clean. And now you can see that they left the water totally contaminated. We have to look in remote areas to try to find some drinking water, water for our homes. We don’t have taps, we don’t have water tanks, or a water system.  And so we have been struggling; for more than 20 years we’re in this situation.  They in the United States, with their great water bottles, they drink freely. And now they tell us we’re lying. It’s not a lie.

This lawsuit they have filed I completely reject it as a plaintiff. There are indeed affected people living here in the Amazon, in the Oriente of Ecuador.

And here’s the transcript of Maria’s video:

My name is Maria Reascos, we are in the pre-cooperative of Pimampiro, here in La Joya de los Sachas.

I am one of the people who have filed a lawsuit against Chevron, which has caused us great harm. We want them to come and remediate all they did, all the damage they caused to our Amazon.  So much contamination, from that comes a lot of illness, our losses that we’ve endured for so long, for so many years. And we wan them to come and clean up what they’ve damaged here in the Amazon.

They had the practice of dumping crude on the roads so they could travel, transit and avoid kicking up dust.  They would dump it into the rivers, we’ve lost those too, we lost all our crops near the rivers.. We had a practice of washing, but there was no way because we would go to the rivers to wash. We just couldn’t. The clothing would be stained. There was no article of clothing that would not be stained with crude.

They are in the wrong.  After they exploited us for so many years, having taken so many riches, as they say, from here. For them to now harass us. It is a disgrace what they are doing against us. We are demanding what is rightfully ours. They can say whatever they want, we are not afraid. We are ready to continue, come what may, we will continue, because they’re not going to pressure us with their lies. Those are their lies. They are attacking us.

Our hope is to at least have clean water, to drink clean water since we don’t have that quality of water because of the contamination that they left behind.

Yes, I had an uncle who passed away from cancer. Just up here there is a lady who also has cancer. We are people with limited means, who don’t have the means to heal ourselves, to go good hospitals, there is none of those here, you have to travel to Quito. The lady who lives up there, she has to travel to Quito. Can you imagine? She has to pay for everything herself and she has cancer.  She’s fighting against cancer.

But how can they be the victims? How? We are the victims, we are the victims, not them. They just came here to drill, to extract everything they needed, and then left us with all the damages.