Chevron sues Amazon natives it poisoned with toxins

  • Published on February 14th, 2011

chevron's dirty oilReal classy, Chevron. Not content with ruining the lives of thousands of indigenous people across the Amazon by poisoning the land they live on and the water they drink, Chevron is suing them.

Hunh? You heard right. Chevron is suing Amazon tribesmen whose only crime was imagining they might get Chevron to take responsibility and clean up the mess they made.

UPDATE: The court in Ecuador has ruled! Read : Chevron found guilty! But will they pay? And our latest follow-up, “Chevron is at it again

As Zach Shahan puts it at Planetsave, “Chevron must have been jealous of BP in 2010, because it is taking corporate irresponsibility to another level in Ecuador.”

Here’s the backstory:

  • Texaco (now Chevron) drills for oil in the jungle. It’s just jungle, right? Not like anyone lives there. They don’t bother cleaning up, instead dumping toxic chemicals in pits dug in the ground.
  • The people who live in this once-pristine garden of Eden get sick.
  • In 1993, they sue in New York courts. Texaco/Chevron claims that New York has no standing, and the suits must be brought in Ecuador. The judge agrees in 2002; this buys Chevron a few years, and a few of the sick natives die in the meantime.
  • More years of litigation drag on, with Chevron pulling every dirty trick in the book, ranging from challenging the right of Ecuador to try the case at all (after insisting the case HAD to be tried in Ecuador, not New York) to trying to boot the judge off the case.
  • Now that it looks like they’re going to lose – $27 billion or more! – Chevron is counter-suing the tribes. In New York. For a case they insisted only Ecuador had jurisdiction over.

Yeah. Classy. Chevron has:

…Threatened the trial judge with criminal liability for refusing to grant the oil giant’s motions to dismiss the case; sued each of the 47 impoverished indigenous and farmer plaintiffs in Ecuador’s rainforest in New York federal court; sought an unprecedented injunction from a U.S. federal judge to bar any American lawyer from enforcing a judgment out of Ecuador anywhere in the world; and finished its 13th day deposing one of the plaintiff’s American lawyer, apparently breaking the record for the longest deposition of a lawyer on a sitting case.

The company also filed a civil RICO suit in New York yesterday, claiming the indigenous groups were trying to extort money from Chevron via the lawsuit. (Via Planetsave)

Watch 60 Minutes’ report on the Chevron lawsuit, “Amazon Crude”:

Watch the trailer for the “Crude” documentary:

What you can do:

More on Chevron

About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.


  • This article is full of half truths and is merely playing to the emotions of the readers. For example, there were numerous regime changes between the time Texaco wanted to have the case tried in Ecuador and now when Chevron is involved and pressure is being put on the Ecuadorian investigators and judiciary to slant the evidence and find for the plaintiffs.

    Nor do you point out that the Ecuadorian state oil company took over ALL oil production from Texaco in 1990. And how about the fact that a news team from 60 minutes observed a major pipeline burst and oil release from Chinese pipelines? And how about the plaintiffs who claimed they had cancer and then admitted under oath that they never had it but were simply told to claim it?

    Not as compelling a story, I guess, what you tell the whole truth.

    • Ah, the classic defense, “I didn’t do it, and anyway, the other kids were all doing it too!”
      Not gonna wash, dude.

  • So sad that such a large company wouldn’t care that they are leaving such a lasting impression on their consumers everywhere. Of course with oil being such a commodity they know we have to buy it constantly and most of the time you don’t always know where you are buying it from.

    It is still disgusting that they are using their expensive lawyers to wriggle out of everything, and also apparently not one of them has a conscience. I guess greed is a powerful thing.

    • Justice IS severed. Why do you think that companies like this get away with this kind of behaviour time and time again?

      Oh, wait, you meant served.. Yea, right… That’ll happen.

  • The oil companies make me sick. It’s all about greed and money and if they destroy a humans habitat in the jungle to make 20 billion they’ll do it. In their minds they see it as “collateral damage” and carry on with business.In their thinking it’s only a few dozen lives that nobody notices or cares about.

    Yet, thats who they are…lives with families…children who have fathers, mothers who have daughters, brothers who have sisters. And they are getting sick and losing loved ones from the gross conduct of Chevron.

    This reminds me of a scripture in Revelations 11:18 where our Grand Creator will soon “bring to ruin those ruining the earth” And with their twisting of the justice system, corruption, and greed, I’m sure the oil companies are on the top of His list.

  • Paul, with all the horrific injustices in this article you’re are picking on the words used in the headline? Really?! You took time to write that the title made you wince. Sheesh.

  • “[…] poisoned with toxins”???


    Poison and toxin are synonyms. Would you have written “poisoned with poisons”?

    Good story otherwise, but that headline makes me wince. You could have omitted “with toxins” and had a more succinct headline with the same meaning.

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