In catching up on the reviews, previews and interviews on the anti-Chevron movie, “Crude,” we see this interview with the director, Joe Berlinger, from Express, the free commuter tabloid from The Washington Post, “‘Crude’ Art: Documentarian Joe Berlinger Discusses His Latest Film“:
FILMMAKER JOE BERLINGER’S latest film, “Crude,” is about the case filed against U.S. oil company Chevron by 30,000 rain forest dwellers in the Amazon jungle of Ecuador.
No. That’s wrong. Thirty-thousand people did not file a suit against Chevron.
Here’s an English translation of the lawsuit. You see that the plaintiffs are about 48 Ecuadorians and the proceeds of a successful suit would go the Amazon Defense Coalition.
Yet the claim of there being 30,000 plaintiffs is everywhere. Here’s Grist referring to “a lawsuit brought by 30,000 rural Ecuadorians,” and Politico, “Since 1993, some 30,000 of those people have taken on Chevron in a landmark lawsuit seeking damages.” Even Washington Post energy writer Steven Mufson, who strives for balance in his Thursday Style piece, “Big oil stains the Amazon in the documentary film ‘Crude’” writes, “On one side of the lawsuit are tens of thousands of indigenous people, represented by an appealing Ecuadoran, Pablo Fajardo, and the American Steven Donziger, who says he has moral as well as financial interests in the case.”
But there aren’t tens of thousands of indigenous people involved in the lawsuit, except as props to be used for public relations purposes.
This isn’t some minor side issue or interpretation. It matters who files a suit, just as it matters who gets the cash.
So, the Amazon Defense Coalition, who’s that? At a website in Ecuador, the Frente de Defense de la Amazonia claims to be a “corporación de derecho privado sin fines de lucro” incorporated in Ecuador in 1994. But in a September 2, 2009, lobbyist disclosure form from the Sharp & Barnes lobbying shop in D.C., Frente is listed as the client and Frente’s address is 245 West 104th Street, Suite 7D, NYC. That’s the office address of Steven Donziger, the trial lawyer who has directed the litigation against Chevron.
And why is an NGO using the Ecuadorian courts to sue a U.S.-based company lobbying Congress in the first place? Just to get Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) to attend tonight’s showing and write angry letters to the President?
Curious. We find it curious. Haven’t really seen any mainstream journalist address the issues, though.
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