Pink Floyd front man Roger Waters took a break from his South America-Mexico tour on Tuesday to visit Ecuador and denounce oil giant Chevron Texaco.

Rogers said he wanted to draw attention to cleanup in the Amazon Rainforest the company was ordered to carry out by a judge in Ecuador, who also ordered the oil giant to pay affected communities $9.5 billion in damages. The case has been ongoing for 25 years.

“This case is fundamentally important to everyone in the world,” Waters said at a press conference Tuesday morning in Ecuador’s capital city of Quito, referring to the case of the Ecuadorian communities of Lago Agrio against Chevron Texaco. He was joined Tuesday by some 12 members of the non-governmental organization Amazon Defense Front (ADF), which would arbitrate any payment of damages from Chevron.

Waters was also joined by Steven Donziger, a U.S. lawyer who has been helping the Ecuadorian plaintiffs seek justice since the beginning of the case, and who Chevron has accused of fraud. Donziger rejects these allegations.

“The whole world at some point has to decide whether the law is there to serve the people of the world or whether it’s there to serve the insatiable appetites of the oligarchs and the corporate tyranny under which we all have to survive,” Waters said during the press conference.

The long, complex case between Ecuadorian communities and Chevron Texaco began in 1993 when local residents of Lago Agrio filed a class action lawsuit against the oil company Texaco for decades of dumping toxic oil waste in the Amazon rainforest. According to plaintiffs, the toxic waste has seeped into the soil and local rivers, killing off several species of fish and contaminating the only water source for many local communities.

Waters was invited to Ecuador by the ADF, just one of the groups that represents the affected communities of Lago Agrio. He arrived to Ecuador Monday and went straight to the Chevron Texaco contamination site outside of Lago Agrio in the north of Ecuador, and later traveled to the capital Quito.

This is not the first time Waters has been politically outspoken during his Us + Them tour, which ends on November 24 in Costa Rica. While in Brazil in October before presidential elections there, he told the audience not to vote for the controversial right wing candidate Jair Bolsonaro, calling him a “fascist,” which was met with mixed responses by the crowd. He has also long been an advocate for human rights in Palestine, and supports the Israel boycott.

“No oil company has a right to go in and destroy the land, country, or habitat where other people are living without considering their rights,” Waters said.

In 2011, a judge in Ecuador ruled in favor of the community and ordered Chevron Texaco to pay up to $18 billion in damages. This amount was later cut in half by another Ecuadorian court, who ruled again in the community’s favor after Chevron filed an appeal.

For years, Chevron has refused to pay, forcing the Lago Agrio plaintiffs to take their case to other countries where Chevron has assets, like the US and Canada.

Meanwhile, Chevron filed a racketeering lawsuit against one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, Donziger, accusing him of using false evidence to win the case in Ecuador. When the multinational oil company won, Donziger was suspended from the Bar of New York State. The win also became the basis for US courts to rule in favor of Chevron, when the Lago Agrio plaintiffs tried to force the corporation to pay through their US assets.

Chevron Texaco did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication, but on their website, the corporation cites the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruling, saying Donziger’s team engaged in a “parade of corrupt actions… including coercion, fraud and bribery.”

At the press conference Tuesday, Waters said he witnessed the trial against Donziger, and called it a “kangaroo court.”

Waters said he is hopeful that the Canadian court will rule in the communities’ favor, citing a letter that shareholders sent Chevron Texaco’s CEO Michael Wirth earlier this year, urging him to agree on a settlement with the Lago Agrio plaintiffs. The letter was signed by 36 institutional investors, who collectively represent some $109 billion in assets.

“If we lose, it will be the end of the world as we know it, because the corporations will have won… and then we may as well all just jump in the river,” Waters said.

Responses to "Rock icon Roger Waters denounces Chevron in Ecuador"

  1. Unknown says:

    Big Bravo!

  2. B says:

    Love him or hate him, he knows what he believes in, and brings attention, to the cause. Thank you Roger, for doing what you believe in, and bringing the world some of the best lyrics ever written!!!

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