So there is just so much going on that its hard to write one email figuring out what is actually interesting and thats why its taken me forever! Things here are of course pretty crazy, this was definitely the perfect time to be here working at this organization and with this case and you’ll understand why when I tell you what I’ve been up to. In one sentence – setting up US delegation to the Amazon, judicial inspections in the jungle, documentary promotion, sweet people, bits of traveling!
Quick review on the job/legal case I´m working with the lawyers and organizations who are representing the 30,000 indigenous Amazonian people who are part of the world’s biggest environmental damage case – against ChevronTexaco… it has been going on for 17 years and is being nicknamed “Amazon Chernobyl,¨ Texaco (now Chevron) is being accused of dumping over 18 billion gallons of toxic waste in the rainforest. A loss for Chevron would set an international precedent, with the damage money to remediate the environment and compensate families now estimated to be $27 *Billion. Right now, things are moving quite rapid (aka Chevron is going to have to stop procrastinating soon and the judge may be able to make a decision!)…
So they FINALLY did the last judicial inspections in the case that Chevron had been putting off for months keeping with their desperate trend of delay tactics. The first week there wasn’t really anyone there filming or photographing (dumb, I should have gone..) and one of our lawyers, Julio was actually threatened by one of the Chevron lawyers… not sure of exactly what happened but turns out they were throwing around cuss-words such as gallinas (hens) which are apparently really rude and emasculating here! Press release about it if you’re interested –
The second week of inspections I went with a bunch of people in my office to act as a monitor (the more people there from our side, the more Chevron´s people have to play by the rules since they can see they are being watched) , take photos, and help with anything they might need. THIS was NUTS. Llike nothing I I have ever seen before and nothing that could possibly happen in the US.. honestly a court room in the middle of the hot, sunny, sweaty jungle, and oh yeah at a loud, even hotter oil station?!?
SO WACK! and since the attorneys don’t get much face time with the judge, both sides used it as time to present documents to the judge, and talk talk talk, and yeah maybe take some samples of the sites, but that seemed to be secondary. The Chevron lawyer was SOOO annoying and infuriating, he literally used the delay tactic of talking sooo slow and about nothing forevrrrrr. It was a delay tactic because he did it so that the press would leave before our lawyers had a chance to present. Really ridiculous and hard to describe, check out the photos and videos on the blog it will give you a better idea of how crazy this was.
And to think, this was the last of over 100 inspections. This video I translated below is especially hilarious and exemplifies how the days went.. basically the Chevron lawyer is comparing taking a shower and that water going into the river to dumping waste water that results from oil extraction into the river… so funny and dumb.
ABOVE—See the Chevron lawyer ridiculously compare bathing to dumping toxic water into the Amazon. with ENGLISH subtitles 🙂
But yeah the inspections were just insane and one of the most draining weeks ever… so hot all day and then all night i had to help edit videos to be sent to the press team in the US and our cameraman bailed a few times and left me with a dumb guy to edit and yeah it was quite miserable and I wasn’t able to get what they needed done and my boss had left to go prepare for his wedding so yeah somewhat disaster but now seems like its rolling out okay.
I am so lucky to have been here and to have been able to attend, it really hit me quick how dedicated, passionate and hard-working the lawyers who have been working on this case for 15 years must be…honestly after two days of all that I was so furious at the Chevron people, frustrated in general, and so angry at their lies I really didn´t know how to deal. Then I just have to think about these people fighting year after year and that helps keep me sane.
Anyway, everyone is happy there over and still saying probably a verdict this year!?!?! woah. the court appointed expert has 40 days to analyze the results of the inspections and then things should get rolling pretty fast. Got to hang out with Lupita, the main person on their communication team, and get to know her much more. She´s Colombian and likes to practice English and I help her with a lot of work for the case and media. I really adore her, she has such a big heart…. shes also hilarious and so so interesting and has had an incredibly ridiculous life. =… she is kind of like my madre here and also a good friend… always offering to have me over her house when I´m sick, helping me with whatever I need, and just really funny to be around.
On a more humorous note, check out Julio’s hat …. during the whole week of inspections he casually and cooly (as always) wore a hat that said “sunshine makes me high.” I thought this was just hilarious and so-Julio, since he´s very young, funny and chill. Watching him present in front of the judge so seriously and intelligently with this hat on was a little strange but for some reason also very fitting. Then when we were chatting in the back of a pick-up en route to lunch finally after the inspetions were DONE, we were all like WTF, when you´re looking down, all of our videos are of your ridiculous hat!! he told me that another time a Chevron lawyer had yelled at him, “WHAT ARE YOU HIGH?!?” so he saw the hat and thought it would be funny to wear. loveee how Ecuadorian this trial can be…something like that would obviously be deemed disrespectful in the USA haha