Steven Donziger, the lead plaintiff lawyer in the long-running Chevron Ecuador case, is, once again, the focus of a document painting him in terms far less than flattering. In this case, the “document” is really a new book called Law Of The Jungle, written by Paul M. Barrett, and to be released September 23rd.
Mr. Barrett looked back over the entire history of the litigation that Donziger launched, and wound up portraying the American lawyer in a way such that one would expect him to have crafted the fraudulent case against Chevron with respect to Ecuador.
(It’s important to say “Chevron with respect to Ecuador” and not “Chevron in Ecuador” because Chevron never really was in Ecuador at all. Texaco operated in Ecuador between 1967 and 1992 as an oil producing member of a conglomerate that grew to be mostly owned by the Country of Ecuador by the time Texaco stopped it’s share of the production work in 1989. When Raphael Correa became President in 2006, he sought to grab revenues from foreign oil production using a combination of political trickery, higher operations fees, outright takeover in the case of Occidental Petroleum, and systemic reductions in press freedoms that would normally root our corruption. Donziger sought to cozy up to Correa, befriend him, and eventually take on actions that caused Ecuador to become a true party to his lawsuit against Texaco’s long-closed operation, even as Amazon Watch tried to claim that was not the case. Through all of this, Chevron itself never operated in Ecuador; when it bought Texaco in 2001, it inherited the Donziger problem. Thus, anyone who asserts that Chevron was in Ecuador does not truly know the story.)
Take this example from the book:
“We are going to have a little chat with the judge,” he told the documentary film crew he had invited to follow him. “This is something you would never do in the United States,” he continued. “But in Ecuador, this is how the game is played. It’s dirty. We have to – occasionally – use pressure tactics to neutralize their corruption, and today is one of those examples.”
That is how Steven Donziger thinks: he has to convince himself that Chevron’s doing the corrupt act in order to justify his corruption. It’s become a common theme in his approach.
The Truth Hurts
In all, Law Of The Jungle should be called Steven Donziger Exposed. It skillfully, yet fairly, paints him as a master sales person and manipulator – one who was even able to get Vanity Fair to be, for all practical purposes, his personal publicist in 2007. But it also provides a final view of the New York Lawyer in a way that should be considered harmful to any current or future litigation he is involved in with respect to Chevron in Ecuador. It’s no wonder operatives for Ecuador President Rafael Correa believe that Barrett was paid by the San Ramon-Headquartered oil giant; it’s that damning of Donziger. But as they say, the truth hurts.