Friday, September 25, 2009


Chevron has never appeared to take seriously its potential liability for the 18 billion gallons of contamination intentionally dumped in the Amazon rainforest. The oil company continually dismisses the overwhelming evidence that shows ChevronTexaco is responsible for destroying the health and way of life of the indigenous groups and farmer communities that live there. But, despite the company's failure to account for the severity of its actions, you couldn't imagine they found the situation humorous.

However, during a taped interview with Palast in Quito for the BBC, Chevron's Ecuadorian lawyers – Rodrigo Perez Pallares and Jaimie Varela -- laughed out loud when asked about the abnormally high cancer rates in the area.

Perez Pallares, in a dismissive, mocking tone said: "And it's the only case of cancer in the world? How many cases of children with cancer do you have in the States? [laughter] If there is somebody with cancer there, [the Cofan parents] must prove [the deaths were] caused by crude or by petroleum industry. And, second, they have to prove that it is OUR crude – which is absolutely impossible."

For his part, Jaimie Varela waved away concerns about instances of childhood cancer, asking Palast if he has been given any medical reports. When the reporter showed Varela a peer-reviewed study indicating that instances of childhood leukemia were substantially higher in the contaminated region, Varela mocked it.

The tape demonstrates a sickening display of callousness and arrogance that seems to be at the heart of Chevron's legal strategy. It is clear that Chevron would not be so quick to laugh at those dying off from their failure to act as an ethical corporation if the victims were from another part of the world.

Sadly, the lawsuit has exposed not only a history of environmental racism by the oil giant, but has demonstrated Chevron's ongoing belief that human life is of less value amongst the impoverished communities in Ecuador's rainforest.