The movie “Crude” was again used to promote the anti-Chevron cause last week when a Congressman and the U.S. trial lawyer appeared at a Washington, D.C. showing alongside the film’s director, Joe Berlinger. Their comments in the Q&A demonstrated again that the litigation against Chevron for its predecessor Texaco’s operations in Ecuador is a matter of politics and public relations — not law — designed to force the company into a settlement.
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) levied several serious charges against Chevron, accusations commonly made by the anti-corporate activists but still startling when delivered by an elected member of Congress. In his five minutes of remarks (audio here), McGovern urged the crowd “to ramp up the pressure.”
And one final thing, and that is, here in Washington, we need to raise this issue more in Congress. We’re trying. I chair a human rights commission. We had a hearing on this, and trying to raise the issue of environmental contamination as a human rights issue. These people, their human rights are being abused by being forced to live in that area. And we can do something about this. We need to make this a priority.
Shortly after…when I came back — this was in December — I sent then President-elect Obama a letter [here] explaining my trip and asking him to raise this issue, and to coordinate with all the relevant departments and with the Ecuadorian government a way to help these people. We can’t continue to fight this thing out. This is not about lawyers, this is about these people that you see in this film. It’s about my friend Luis and all the people he’s been fighting for.
Donziger, the New York City trial lawyer who has masterminded the case, made it clear what he considers Chevron’s real target — its reputation:
At the end of the day, though, I don’t think it’s just a money question for them, I think it’s a reputational question. There’s opportunity costs when you have this hanging over your head and you search for new sources of supply around the world. So, you know, we’ll see how this all shakes out. They could try to drag this out as long as they possibly can. But we have a plan legally to go get their money, assuming we win the case and get a judgment, to go get that judgment in force as quickly as possible. (Audio clip)
As the old saying goes, when the law is against you, argue the facts. When the facts are against you, argue the law. And when both are against you, pound the table.
And get a movie made about your cause.
And hire a lobbyist while you’re at it. Only someone who believes the issue is going to be resolved politically, not legally, hires lobbyists as have Donziger, the Amazon Defense Coalition, and Kohn, Swift and Graf, the Philadelphia law firm paying the bills.
For the audio of the entire Q&A, click here. It’s about 28 minutes. Also speaking are Mitch Anderson, Amazon Watch; Luis Yanza, an Ecuadorian activist; Joe Berlinger, director of “Crude.” Berlinger said Washington’s E Street Cinema was the only venue showing the film and he urged the crowd to support the film, saying, “If it does not do well this week, it will be gone.”
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