RFK''s daughter backs Ecuadorians in Chevron lawsuit
October 12, 2009
The Associated Press reports that Robert F. Kennedy''s daughter has sided with Ecuadorian Indians and farmers in their $27 billion environmental lawsuit against oil giant Chevron, saying after visiting former Amazon drilling sites that the case compares unfavorably to the 1989 Exxon Valdez tanker spill. Kerry Kennedy, who is president of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights, toured parts of the Amazon province of Sucumbios by invitation of the plaintiffs to witness ecological damage, promising to lobby hard back in the United States by calling on political leaders in the United States to investigate Chevron and its practices. The plaintiffs, who say they represent 30,000 inhabitants of the region, are seeking damages for cleanup and to compensate for illnesses they attribute to oil-drilling contamination from operations carried out by Texaco. Chevron Corp., which bought Texaco in 2001, says it was absolved of any liability by a 1998 agreement with Ecuador''s government that followed a multimillion-dollar cleanup. The plaintiffs contend the cleanup was a sham and say the agreement doesn''t protect Chevron from claims by third parties. Chevron must be held responsible and compensate the local populations, Kennedy told reporters in Ecuador''s capital, Quito. In a statement, Chevron invited President John F. Kennedy''s niece to meet with its representatives and learn the company''s side. Chevron accused the Ecuadorian state oil company Petroecuador of being responsible for the damage, not Texaco. Petroecuador was a partner in the drilling consortium Texaco operated before pulling out in the 1990s. Chevron has long claimed it can''t get a fair trial in Ecuador. It contends the judicial system is corrupt and recently released tapes it claims implicate the judge in the case in a bribery scheme.