The movie “Crude” uses documentary film techniques to launch a one-sided, fact-challenged but well-crafted attack against Chevron for environmental damage supposedly caused by the operations of Texaco in Ecuador. (Chevron bought Texaco in 2001.) The directors have been showing the movie to friendly audiences around the film-festival circuit, including last week at the American Film Institute’s “SilverDocs“* festival in Silver Spring, Md.
Perhaps despite themselves, the moviemakers reveal an awful lot about the nature of the litigation scheme.
The photo shows U.S. trial lawyer Steven Donziger, the moving force behind the lawsuit filed on behalf of the Frente de Defensa de la Amazonia (AKA Amazon Defense Coalition), being introduced to Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador. As the post immediately below describes, Correa is a radical, anti-American politician in the mode of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Bolivia’s Evo Morales.
In the movie Donziger and his Ecuadorian colleague, Pablo Fajardo, fly to Philadelphia to solicit more financial support for their litigation from Joe Kohn, a partner in Kohn, Swift and Graf. Kohn cheerfully explains to the camera that the lawsuit is, indeed, intended to be a money-making venture. (Photo below: Kohn, left, chats with Donziger in the Philadelphia law offices.)
And here’s the House lobbyist registration form from 2008, in which über-lobbyist Ben Barnes signs his firm up to lobby for Kohn, Swift and Graft on issues related to Ecuador and the environment. Which would be…
The campaign against Chevron rests on a foundation of falsehoods, misrepresentation and emotional appeals.
But when you have the Ecuadorian government, self-styled documentarians, big-time lobbyists, not to mention Sting’s wife Trudie, all on your side, who needs the facts?
More on the film and the alliance against a U.S.-based energy company soon.
* The SilverDocs prizes were announced today. “Crude” did not win any awards.
Disclosure: I recently traveled to Ecuador on Chevron’s dime to get a first-hand view of the territory over which the lawsuit makes numerous claims. Chevron is a member of the NAM. But I’ve been posting on this lawsuit since September 2008.
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