By Alexis Lopez
A topic I think deserves more attention is the Chevron Ecuador lawsuit over conditions where Ecuadoreans were left living on contaminated lands, due to the oil company Chevron’s careless actions. This occurrence was brought to my attention after seeing the movie Crude.
It is terribly frustrating to see the deception that was going on and the helplessness that the people of Ecuador felt while being forced to live off of potentially fatal lands. To see such awful things happening without the ability to stop it must be a debilitating and terrible feeling. Not only were the unfortunate people of Ecuador left feeling helpless, but also many of them were ill, and many could not afford the health care they needed in order to become healthy again. Furthermore, Chevron would not even take responsibility for the unfortunate results to a problem they were responsible for. Instead, they placed blame on PetroEcuador, the national oil company for Ecuador, and tried completely omitting themselves from the equation.
I have a great deal of empathy for the people who wanted and deserved justice. The people of Ecuador have the right to clean water. I am truly appalled that this catastrophe took place, let alone the length of time in which it persisted. To further delve into what happened, there were oil spills and mass contamination that were ruining innocent people’s lives. The outcomes were beyond catastrophic for this region—causing illnesses, stunting the growth of crops that were an everyday part of their lives and essential for survival, causing skin rashes, causing animals to die and much more.
Images of huge oil pits cast a dismal light on the many unfortunate things that happened during the time of the contamination. In the 2009 film, when I saw how deep into the soil the oil had seeped, allowing this destructive substance to travel to what should be a clean and available water source for the people of Ecuador to drink, cook with, bathe in, took the wind right out of my sails. No one should have to worry about what is in his or her bath water in fear of getting chronically or even fatally ill.
I would have respected Texaco/Chevron so much more had they stood up and taken responsibility for their wrong doings, but instead, they consistently placed blame wherever it was that they could. In specific, Chevron made reference to the oil, stating that you cannot prove that it was Chevron’s oil because the oil “had no logo on it.”
It is especially tough to think about all of the families and people of Ecuador who were directly affected. Crude showed a house that was built basically on top of one of the many oil pits that had formed. Because of this, homeowners were entirely unable to have access to clean and safe drinking water. One of the saddest parts about all of this, is that the people of Ecuador not only felt sorry for the situation they were in as individuals, they were sorrowful for their entire country. The Ecuadoreans were saddened for their fellow people, that they too were dealing with these problems, some of whom were in tougher positions.
These unfortunate people were left to manage and make do with what they now had due to something that was entirely out of their control. Simply put, the entire situation was unfair for the people of Ecuador.
Thankfully, there were people who cared, who were not only from Ecuador but also from the United States. These people fought strongly for the rights of the Ecuadorian people. Justice needed to be served and wrongs were in need of being corrected. As ridiculous as it is that Chevron failed to take responsibility and continued to defend themselves, I think having people outside of Ecuador show they cared, provided Ecuadoreans with an element of solace.
Although the efforts are still on going and will sadly continue to be a pressing issue for at least another ten years, according to observers. Thankfully and reliving, rain collection units and filtration systems have been actively been put into place, providing clean water for at least a fraction of the country. Also, I was glad to discover that Chevron was recommended to pay twenty-seven billion dollars in damages to Ecuador in order to compensate for environmental remediation, excess cancer deaths, and impacts on indigenous culture.
Despite Chevrons attempts to dispute the report, from what I have read about this matter, I feel as though steps are being made towards the right direction for Ecuador. I only wish more could be done and at a more efficient rate. These people deserve justice. I hope all those interested in learning more about this case set the time aside to watch Crude, as it is a powerful movie with a powerful message.