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7 Mar 2011

Chris Jochnick, Director, Oxfam America Private Sector Department

An $8 billion decision against Chevron – what does it mean?

As David and Goliath stories go, it would be tough to match the struggle between poor, marginalized communities and one of the most powerful companies in the world... facing off in the Ecuadorian Amazon. That those communities just won a record-breaking $8.6 billion decision against the company is remarkable...Chevron-Texaco has gone to extraordinary lengths to fight the charges... The case put other companies on notice...Working with grassroots communities and social movements... inevitably complicates and politicizes cases and requires much more time and resources. But the alternative risks doing damage to environmental or human rights causes...While Texaco build the roads, dug the wells, dumped the wastes, a compliant Ecuadorian government, weak regulators, a failing judiciary, a complicit state oil company, and pressure from the US government and international financial institutions allowed it to happen. A sustainable solution to destruction in the Amazon requires attention to all of these actors as part of a larger system. That underscores the importance of strengthening local civil society actors....It also calls for new legal instruments capable of covering all relevant actors across national boundaries, along the lines of the UN Ruggie Framework and the recently passed Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Legislation.

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Opinion: Chris Jochnick, Oxfam, reflects on "corporate impunity" and the US$ 8 million judgement against Chevron

Texaco/Chevron lawsuits (re Ecuador)