Our most recent post about Chevron's turning victims into enemies was prescient. This weekend Chevron planted a story in a tabloid to disparage one of the Ecuadorians' most effective supporters, human rights activist Kerry Kennedy. It was a lie. Pure and simple.
Ms. Kennedy did not hesitate to fight back. In a Huffington Post piece, she did as other human rights activists have done in past struggles: She spoke truth to power.
She described what she and her three daughters saw when they visited the area in the Ecuadorian rainforest where Chevron explored for oil:
"We looked at pools of oily muck abandoned in the early 1970s that still drain toxic soup into nearby streams used for drinking water, fishing, and washing. We visited the home of an elderly woman who told us about the skin lesions that covered the bodies of her son, daughter, and grandson. She had built the family home on a field Texaco claimed to have cleaned. In fact, the oil giant had merely covered up the poisonous pond with four feet of dirt and a thin layer of grass. We smelled the fumes emanating from water Chevron claims is now clean. All this is part of the massive environmental damage and accompanying cancer clusters, lung disease, skin lesions and other injuries left behind by a U.S. multinational corporation."
"Chevron's irresponsible operational practices are now responsible for a catastrophe that has cost untold lives and destroyed an area of pristine rainforest the size of Rhode Island. Chevron lost the legal case in Ecuador, and a U.S. appellate court recently blocked efforts by the company to prevent enforcement of the judgment. The company is on its last legs after battling to deny the claims of indigenous groups for almost two decades since the case was filed in 1993.
"This helps explain why Chevron is now turning to personal attacks."Pablo Fajardo, the Ecuadorian lawyer who has lead the successful litigation against Chevron, responded as well:
"Kerry Kennedy is a fierce human rights advocate and friend of thousands of Ecuadorians who have been victimized by Chevron's horrific contamination. She has stood behind the indigenous and farmer communities of the rainforest as they struggle to properly remediate one of the world's worst environmental catastrophes.
"The newspaper article is inaccurate. Such an accusation only proves Chevron's desperation. The oil giant has run out of legal options, with multiple defeats in both Ecuador and U.S. courts. Chevron's legal team now has turned to personal attacks against those like Kerry who speak out to defend the victims of the company's deliberate contamination of the soil and water in the Amazon rainforest."
"The best way to divert attention from your own crimes is to turn your victims into your enemy. Chevron hasn't hesitated. Company lawyers have hired spies to find out if people who are dying actually have cancer. They have called the people suffering in the rainforest liars, con men and frauds. It should come as no surprise that Chevron would resort to leaking misleading court documents to tabloid newspapers about our supporters."
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