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Global anti-Chevron day: Environmental activists stage protests worldwide (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)

Published time: May 22, 2014 04:27
Activists hold signs reading "For Amazonia's honor I am AntiChevron", "For nature & life I am Antichevron" and " I am AntiChevron" during a protest against US multinational energy corporation Chevron at a square in downtown Quito on May 21, 2014 (AFP Photo)

Activists hold signs reading "For Amazonia's honor I am AntiChevron", "For nature & life I am Antichevron" and " I am AntiChevron" during a protest against US multinational energy corporation Chevron at a square in downtown Quito on May 21, 2014 (AFP Photo)

Anti-Chevron activists have joined in a global event across five continents to protest against Chevron Corporation's track record on human rights violations and particularly the environmental damage caused by the international corporation.

Indigenous communities worldwide that are affected by the global oil giant and its subsidiaries are calling on the corporation’s management to finance clean ups and implement better environmental policies.

Communities across at least 16 countries including Ecuador, Argentina, Brazil, Nigeria, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, US, France, Romania, and Bulgaria, are urging all consumers to boycott any product with the Chevron brand, including Texaco.

Anti-Chevron Day organized by Amazon Watch, aims to bring more awareness of the suffering of the local communities affected by Chevron’s striving for profits.

Headquartered in San Ramon, California, Chevron Corporation is active in more than 180 countries and is one of the leading players in the oil, gas, and geothermal energy industries. They are top market leaders in exploration and production, refining, and chemicals manufacturing as well as power generation.

Just 40 miles outside of the company's global headquarters, in Richmond, California, residents dealing with the negative aspects of Chevron’s operation joined in the protests outside of Chevron's refinery.

Led by Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, activists blame the company for the failure to prioritize the health and safety of the Richmond community, following 2012 explosion and fire which sent 15,000 local residents to the hospital and led to a $2 million fine for Chevron.

"Chevron needs to shift its corporate culture and put health and safety first, before its profits, whether in Richmond, Ecuador, Nigeria and everywhere it does business," said Mayor McLaughlin, Amazon Watch quotes in their press release.

The unprecedented global protest is happening ahead of Chevron's annual meeting, scheduled for May 28. The activists are trying to pressure Chevron CEO John Watson to reverse the company's environmental record and to comply with an Ecuador court order to pay $9.5 billion for environmental clean-up.

Ecuador is pushing Chevron to compensate 30,000 people who were affected by oil extraction from its Texaco subsidiary from 1960 to 1990. Overall, Ecuadorian authorities say Texaco spilled 16.8 million gallons (63.6 million litres) of oil in the Amazon rainforest.

The company denies wrongdoing and has called the court ruling a product of fraud. So far no payment has been made to Ecuador, in fact Chevron sued Ecuador in the International Court of Justice in The Hague for violating a Bilateral Investment Protection Treaty and for the lack of transparency in the suit.

Ecuadorian lawyer in the Chevron suit, Pablo Fajardo says that he hopes the Anti-Chevron International campaign will lead to a general denouncement of Chevron's environmental practices.

“We hope the whole world knows that this company is the most criminal in the planet”, Fajardo told a local TV station, as he revealed that the company hid the fact that hydrocarbons were left by Chevron at their exploration sites.

On Tuesday, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa accused Chevron of deceiving the country's justice system.

Correa said that contamination evidence found by experts hired by Chevron that tested areas once operated by Texaco, which was bought by Chevron in 2001, was never given to the court.

"They did prior inspections of the different wells so that the court would go to places where there was no pollution, trying to deceive the justice system," Correa told reporters. Ecuador was given access to those probe documents through a court order.

The US oil giant dismissed Correa's accusations as "baseless."

"This is yet another attempt by the Republic to distract attention and evade its responsibility for conditions in the Amazon," a Chevron spokesman said in an email, Reuters reports.

Meanwhile RT's Ruptly, filmed dozens of protesters that visited the drill exploratory site in Romania used by Chevron as part of the International Day of Action against Chevron. The protesters angry at the potential fracking of the region were met by police officers guarding the area.

Chevron had won approval to drill for oil in October 2013, but after residents blocked access to the site the fracking work was stopped.

After resuming work by drilling for natural gas at the beginning of May, the US Energy Information Administration revealed Romania could potentially have 51 trillion cubic feet of shale gas.

Protesters are against the method used by the company, saying fracking can pollute water supplies and trigger earthquakes.

"We don't want the gas rig there. We want our land as it used to be!" one of the protesters told Ruptly.

Anti-Chevron rallies also took place outside Berlin's Brandenburg Gate against hydraulic fracturing.

Demonstrators say Chevron has caused environmental harm in areas where it operates. Much of the Berlin protest focused on Ecuador.

Activists also list a number of human rights violations by Chevron throughout the world. Amazon Watch in their press release says:

“The declaration by the affected communities makes clear that Chevron has caused widespread and deliberate pollution across the globe; has repeatedly violated environmental safety regulations; and has allied itself with brutal military regimes that are complicit in human rights violations, including the deaths of environmental protesters in Nigeria and the use of forced labor in Myanmar. Rather than address the criticism, Chevron has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on "greenwashing" advertising and aggressive retaliatory legal attacks.”