Friday, October 1, 2010

Chevron's Thin Skin Exposed Again

Maria Ramos Refuses to Succumb To Oil Giant’s Strong-Arm Tactics

Maria Ramos of the Rainforest Action Network has long been a thorn in Chevron’s side over its Ecuador environmental disaster, considered the worst on the planet. Just how much so was recently captured on video.

As the director of the We Can Change Chevron initiative, Ramos recently attended the “Corporate Citizen Conference” of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. This was a platform for Chevron (one of the largest donors to the Chamber) to try to green wash its disastrous environmental record in Ecuador and to tout its “public partnerships” throughout the world. (Note: one “public partnership” Chevron never wants to talk about is how the company is in bed with Venezuelan strong man Hugo Chavez.)

Ramos had the courage to pose several questions to Chevron official Gary Fisher about the company’s “public partnership” in Ecuador that has left 1,400 people dead from cancer and thousands of others sick with cancer, skin disease, respiratory problems and other illnesses. From 1964 until 1990, Chevron dumped billions of gallons of toxic water and oil into the rainforest, destroying the environment and tainting the local water supply on which tens of thousands of people relied for their survival. The company has refused to take responsibility for the eco-disaster and has undertaken a legal battle to derail a 17-year-old lawsuit seeking damages.

Not surprisingly, security showed up and tried to silence Ramos, but she had none of it. Watch Ramos here as a beefy security guard tries to cover up the microphone while she poses a question.

Chevron of course has a history of suppressing the Free Speech rights of its critics. At its May annual meeting, Chevron conspired with the Houston police to have five shareholder critics arrested and charged with criminal trespassing. Chevron also refused to allow 20 people from Ecuador, Burma, Nigeria and the Philippines to attend the meeting, even though they had legitimate shareholder proxies. Read about this other “public partnership” here. The Chamber is now threatening to bill Rainforest Action Network $10,000 for attending the conference. Stay tuned for more.