Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin can’t resist acting like an irresponsible and unknowing political activist, even as the Mayor of Richmond. (Bet she doesn’t know that oil on her gloves in that Contra Costa Times photo came from the state-run Petroecuador’s many oil spills! The Mayor of Richmond thinks it’s Chevron, and doesn’t know she’s being made a fool of, but more about that later.)
Even though Chevron launched an unprecedented $15 million community program for Richmond, California just two weeks ago, that didn’t stop her from holding a mini-protest at Richmond City Hall including 25 people on Tuesday morning, the first day of the Chevron vs. Steven Donziger RICO trial in New York City.
Chevron vs. Steven Donziger is a big-deal case that, if Chevron wins, will mean that Steven Donziger and Ecuador can’t collect on the $19 billion, fraudulently arrived at judgment thrown down in an Ecuador court in 2012. Because Chevron has no assets in Ecuador, both Steven Donziger, and President Rafael Correa (who’s involvement proves that Amazon Watch either lied about or did not know Ecuador’s government was a party to the lawsuit) have been on a global hunt to get a hold of Chevron assets anywhere in the World.
So far, they’ve failed.
The truth about Chevron Ecuador is that Texaco and Ecuador were in a partnership 70 percent owned by the Ecuadorian goverment, which took most of the profits. They did business from 1967 to 1992 – a full 25 years.
When it was time for Texaco to contractually pull out in 1992, they cleaned up those properties they were contractually responsible for, and turned the entire operation over to its partner Petroecuador, the state-run oil company of Ecuador.
But guess what? Petroecuador did not do any environmental cleanup then, and has not up to present day. Instead, as the Latin Business Chronicle rightly points out, Petroecuador has been responisble for over 1,000 – yes, 1,000 – oil spills over 2002 to 2007 and 168 happened in 2007 alone. That doesn’t even cover the period from 2007 to now, which can reportedly claim another 1,000 oil spills by Petroecuador.
So how did Texaco and Chevron, which bought Texaco, wind up being the target of this sham lawsuit? Because Steven Donziger launched the lawsuit and knew that he could never get anyone in Ecuador to sue itself in the form of its government and oil company, and on top of that, given their mistrust of “gringoes”, knew that he might even be thrown in jail over some trumped up claim like rudeness to a police officer (I’m not kidding.)
Moreover, Donziger knows that Ecuador is two things: poor and corrupt and the only way to win is to make up a claim based on what was first as assumption by him that it was Texaco’s fault. So he does this, only to find that he could not get a shread of real evidence pointing the finger at Chevron, so he had to hire experts to make up the claims, and gain a relationship with Ecuador’s left such that if Rafael Correa became president of that country, Donziger’s chances of winning a trial down there improved dramatically.
See, all of this was high-stakes political gaming. Texaco should have kept its case in America, but assumed Ecuador, which seemed to be happy with having American business in its boarders at the time, would be the more logical place to have a trial.
The problem is, and to be frank this was the problem, a new generation of Ecuadorians got tired of seeing white folks from foreign lands coming into their country and taking money out of it. Heck, they’d rather see other Latinos do it, with the idea that they would get something back. That was the issue and that was what propelled Correa into power – the idea that Ecuador wanted to take its country back. A feeling, driven by racism and poverty and under-education.
Donziger knew the only way to win was to brush up on his Spanish, and make friends with the locals at high levels, and all to the eventual objective of gaining billions from Chevron. Along the way, he forged the signatures of 48 locals, bribed and befriended judges, and created an army of locals all set to harass the judges. Then, after years of trying, Donziger got the friendship of President Correa, and was even able to write reports for his attorney general’s office, and even install a fake environmental report for the Ecuadorian court.
See, the truth is that Petroecuador’s operations over long years, and its oil spills were what Donziger’s researchers were tracking, but they would just blaim Chevron, which had bought Texaco in 2001, and got this sham trial effort as part of the deal.
None of this compares to Richmond and the dramatic refinery accident of August 2012. None. Watch this video by Nigel Hearne, General Manager of The Chevron Richmond Refinery:
Yet, the Richmond Mayor makes a trip to Ecuador, doesn’t know what the hell she’s been taken to look at down there, and undoubtedly has never even heard of Petroecuador, and yet she comes out with this protest crap.
The good Mayor should focus on how she can improve her relationship with the Chevron managers like Nigel Hearne in Richmond, increase job opportunities, and not spend public time on a junket to Ecuador that has nothing to do with her city.
And I mean nothing.
Chevron has sent press releases and taken action to help improve Richmond after an accident at its facility. That’s what it is supposed to do.