We’ve had far too much in the way of fun stories this weekend, so let’s get one more item in to get your blood pressure back into the red zone. As you may recall, various agents and legal entities (most from inside the United States) have been pursuing a extremely suspect lawsuit – to put it charitably – against Chevron for alleged environmental damage in the nation of Ecuador. (The original suit was against Texaco which Chevron took over.) One of the key players in this case is the lawyer for the plaintiffs, one Steven Donziger. We now have a video which chronicles the incredible, blatant greed and denial of reality which seems to permeate the case of Aguinda vs. Chevron and it’s a humdinger. It’s only around six minutes long and I assure you that it’s worth your time to watch. I’ll have a few of the highlights below.
Donziger is shown explaining to a group of law student interns how the game is played.
“We need to make facts that help us, and the facts that we need don’t always exist. This is another key point about litigation. You have to get the right facts. And if they don’t exist in an obvious way, you have to figure out how to go make them.”
And what of the plaintiff herself, Ms. Aguinda, who is suing for all of these damages?
Although the lawyers claim to represent 30,000 indigenous people in the equatorial Amazon, there are in fact only 48 named plaintiffs, and many of their signatures on the complaint are forged. Maria Aguinda, on whose name the suit was brought, told the “Crude” film crew that she didn’t know she was suing Chevron. The plaintiffs’ lawyers got her to sign on to the lawsuit by telling her she was signing up for free medicine.
[Translator] “In four months I will bring medications so you will be healed. But first, sign this paper here. They have made her sign. Alright? Then in four months I’ll be back.. he hasn’t come back in four months, but instead, after a year, when Manuel Pallares and attorney Cristobal Bonifaz get here, saying that you are a plaintiff in the Texaco trial, that is when she found out that she had been a plaintiff.”
Watch the entire thing to experience the full range of outrage. We’ve heard a lot about this case from the environmental groups and a lot from Chevron. But do you know who we haven’t heard much from? The White House and Congress and Washington in general. Well, with the possible exception of people like Kerry Kennedy, as Tina noted some time back. But they’re coming down on Donziger’s side.
Do you know how many jobs Chevron provides here in the United States? Not to mention all of the jobs they provide in other countries as well. And they pay the highest corporate tax rate in the nation on all of that money they bring back home. Do you suppose somebody at the White House might speak up on their behalf? No… because that might make them look like they were on the side of “Big Oil.” Can’t have that in an election year, now can we?
This entire thing stinks to high heaven.