As the environmental case pitting Chevron against Ecaudor advances, there has been a lot written about it. But no article completely describes and dissects the role of lead Plaintiff’s Lawyer Steven Donziger like the one in the January 9th edition of The New Yorker.
The work written by Patrick Radden Keefe explains not just the fraud claims that have come down against Donziger, but just how much of his life the case has take up – pretty much all of it.
The The New Yorker also reveals that Donziger’s fee for his work will either make him a millionaire (as his investors may be paying up to $200 million) or a billionaire (if the case should wind up turning against Chevron for the amount that Donziger wants, the $18 billion that he has said would make him a billionaire.)
The one problem I have with what Patrick Radden Keefe wrote is that it inaccurately paints the Chevron Ecuador oil picture such that Chevron’s the only oil company in existence, and never once uses the name of Ecuador’s state-owned oil company Petroecuador, ignores the fact that there are no large American oil companies active in Ecuador, and that there have been hundreds of oil spills by other firms in Ecuador since Chevron / Texaco’s departure in 1992.
In this entire affair, the idea that a corporation must be bad because it’s large is at play, and covers over any rational discussion of what happened, and what is happening, in Ecuador. It’s a view that has allowed many third-world regimes to thrive with a “justified” form of corruption that would be criminal in the United States. It also fuels Ecuador’s attempts to control media, and to levels that are just plain horrible – like lawsuits of up to $80 million against, of all people, newspaper publishers.