Adonis Diaries

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Worst ecological disaster: Who is Pablo Fajardo Mendoza?

Texaco started oil operations in the State of Equator in 1964.  The location was in the Amazon provinces of Sucumbios and Orellana; the main towns are Largo Agrio and Shushufindi up north.  Texaco dug around 356 oil wells.  For every well, Texaco constructed five open-air basins for storing toxic waste and polluted water used for the operations of the wells.  All these basins were located by the river Rio Victoria so that the wastes are conveniently emptied to save on the safety requirements.  Roads were drenched with oil instead of asphalt.  For five decades, water, air, soil smelled and tasted oil. Texaco had built a 550 km pipeline to the pacific shore.

Texaco claimed that oil does not pollute, that the Amazon basin is an oil land and nobody should be living there, that oil is biodegradable and its effects disappear within weeks, that cancer cases were related to the hygiene standards in the region…

Two of the five indigenous tribes in the region, the Tetete and Sansahuari, are extinct.  The other three tribes were forced to join the cheap labor force for lack of fishing and surviving of the forest bounties.  An ecological catastrophe devastated the entire region,  a calamity 30 times larger than the Exxon Valdez in Alaska.

Pablo Fajardo Mendoza was 14 of age, and the fifth of ten kids, when his parents moved from the province of Manabi to the town of Sushufindi, two decades ago.  At the age of 16, Pablo was leading groups of contestants to the ecological catastrophe: He was fired.

Pablo continued his education with the help of catholic Capuchin priests and obtained his law degree by correspondence at the age of 32.  Every time Pablo and his groups file suite, the Equator government would require a lawyer to represent them. Consequently, Pablo figured out that he will be the lawyer.  Pablo was under the strong impression that the government did its best to facilitate Texaco businesses.

As Pablo was resuming his high school education, the lawyer Judith Kimberling published “Amazon Crude” that made a long fire. In 1993, three separate US lawyers filed a suit in New York tribunals.  The US tribunals claimed their incompetence in the matter and suggested that the lawsuit be presented in Equator. In 2002, nine years later, the court of appeal decided that the case can be carried out in Equator.

By 2003, Pablo Mendoza lodged another lawsuit in the province of Sucumbio. 106 expert reports were presented, among them 56 of them financed by Chevron.  The cost of the 30,000 Equatorian plaintiffs was covered by the Philadelphia law firm of Kohn, Swift, and Graf.  The US law firm estimated the victims will cash in $28 billion in damages.

In 2004, 8 days before the start of the expertise phase in the judicial process, Pablo’s brother (28) was savagely assassinated.  Pablo escaped and scattered his family members for security reasons.

In February 2011, the tribunal in Lago Agria issued its verdict: Texaco-Chevron will pay $8.5 billion in damages, the saving that Texaco generated by flaunting the safety and health standards in the oil production.

The US judge Lewis Kaplan of South New York district declared that the verdict cannot be executed in the USA.  Texaco-Chevron have interests in 50 other States around the world, and damages will be collected from everywhere Chevron is doing business.

Note 1:  This article was inspired by a piece published in the French weekly “Courrier International” number 1078

Note 2: Texaco was purchased by Chevron in 2001.  Texaco was replaced by the State operator Petroecuador in 1990.

Note 3: The irony is that Texaco-Chevron invoked in 2010 the Federal law of “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act” to dismiss the case.  The plaintiffs are members of an organized criminal association!




June 2023

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