A Chevron Corporation full page advertisement in The San Francisco Chronicle April 15 highlights the company's objections to an award given to two Ecuadorians in the city this week. The company says Pablo Fajardo and Luis Yanza, who were recognized last night at the Goldman Environmental awards, are deceiving the Goldman Foundation, the public and the media about oil pollution in Ecuador's rainforest. The Chevron advertisement says Fajardo acknowledges that the source of oil pollution in Ecuador is the country's state-owned oil company, PetroEcuador, which has admitted it has a poor track record for spills, according to Kent Robertson of Chevron. Robertson also said Fajardo has also worked to prevent PetroEcuador from cleaning up its polluted sites.
The Goldman Environmental Prize honored Pablo Fajardo, a trial lawyer from Ecuador, for one of this year's awards yesterday. Unfortunately, the panel of judges has been sadly misled and given credit to someone who does not deserve to be included in the same distinguished company as past winners.
Mr. Fajardo is a front man for a group of Ecuadorian and American trial lawyers pursuing a claim against Chevron. They are the driving force behind a proceeding that has been marred by judicial irregularities, attorney misconduct and interference by the Government of Ecuador.
The lawsuit is an attempt to blame the current environmental damage caused by government-owned Petroecuador's ongoing oil production entirely upon Chevron. Chevron became their target when it acquired Texaco in 2001. Texaco had a subsidiary that had ended its one-third participation in an oil consortium with Petroecuador in 1992.
Mr. Fajardo has purposely ignored the real polluters, Petroecuador, and has even waged an active campaign to prevent the state-owned company from cleaning up its polluted sites. Chevron employees are angered and offended by their fabricated story.
Proof of the deception can be found in a U.S. Federal Court decision handed down just last year. An Ecuadorian lawyer who initiated the case, with whom Mr. Fajardo has worked closely, was fined and sanctioned in San Francisco for bringing knowingly false cancer claims against Chevron on behalf of Ecuadorian clients.
The Judge concluded, "This is not the first evidence of possible misconduct by plaintiffs' counsel in this case. It is clear to the Court that this case was manufactured by plaintiffs' counsel for reasons other than to seek a recovery on these plaintiffs' behalf. This litigation is likely a smaller piece of some larger scheme against defendants."
An honest conversation about the environmental problems in the Ecuadorian Amazon region is long overdue. People truly are suffering. It is unconscionable that these individuals present themselves as environmental champions while complicit in protecting polluters. These are not the actions of someone deserving of The Goldman Environmental Prize.
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