Mr. Watson, how will you respond?
Yesterday Rainforest Action Network’s executive director Mike Brune sent a letter to Chevron’s incoming CEO John Watson and made him an offer. Come with us to Ecuador. To our knowledge no senior Chevron official has toured Texaco’s former oil installations in Ecuador’s rainforest. [Chevron acquired Texaco in 2001, and with it, legal responsibility for the company’s massive oil contamination].
The offer is a genuine invitation to Mr. Watson to see for himself how his company’s actions continue to harm thousands of people. We ask ourselves: How can John Watson deny what he hasn’t seen?
He knows that there is a pending lawsuit against Chevron in Ecuadorian court brought by affected communities for estimated damages as high as $27 billion. He also knows that the ruling is expected sometime next spring.
And Chevron has actually vowed publicly: “we’re not paying and we’re going to fight this for years if not decades into the future.”
It would be a big step for John Watson and Chevron to accept responsibility. We recognize that.
But we also recognize that Chevron doesn’t like to be burdened by the facts.
The fact is that families in Ecuador are poisoning themselves every time they drink oil-tainted water from the river – because they have no other source of potable water. The fact is that children are born with neurological disorders, women are having miscarriages and people are dying of cancer at rates previously unseen in the region.
And the fact is that the longer Chevron cooks up alleged corruption scandals, the more they produce pseudo news reports casting themselves as the victim of a corrupt political system in Ecuador, and the more counter lawsuits they file, the longer the people in Ecuador hurt.
So our offer to Mr. Watson to come to Ecuador is also an opportunity – an opportunity to use his new leadership role and resolve this crisis once and for all.
Mr. Watson – how will you respond?