Chevron Under Fire From Global Coalition
US oil giant faces unprecedented multinational protest as activists from Angola, Ecuador, Indonesia, Nigeria and America highlight the 'true cost of Chevron' at its annual shareholder meeting.
At a press conference in San Francisco, over one dozen community leaders from Angola, Ecuador, Indonesia, Nigeria, Alaska, Texas, across California, and more gathered at a Chevron gas station to expose the harms of Chevron's operations in the communities where they live and advocate. They revealed that contrary to Chevron's Annual Report and the rosy images portrayed in its "We Agree" Ad campaign, Chevron's operations have abused human rights, polluted environments, and devastated local economies. They released The True Cost of Chevron: An Alternative Annual Report documenting their findings. They displayed an alternative set of advertisements revealing their vision of what a "good" Chevron could be. (Report and Ads at http://TrueCostChevron.com) Elias Isaac of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) traveled from Angola. He said, "For many years, Chevron's oil operations in Angola have caused serious damage to the environment, yet the company has gotten off with complete impunity. Chevron has taken almost everything from onshore and offshore of the Angolan province of Cabinda and has left behind only poverty and discontentment." The speakers came to the Bay Area to attend Chevron's annual shareholder meeting on May 25 at its world headquarters in San Ramon. They are share- and proxy-holders who will enter the meeting to deliver their report and message directly to Chevron's executives, board members, and other shareholders. "My parents both died from cancer due to Chevron's contamination," said Servio Curipoma, a cacao farmer who travelled from the polluted town of San Carlos in Ecuador's northeast Amazon rainforest region. "I am fighting for justice so that no one else will have to suffer the pain they did, and the loss I have." Mr. Curipoma is part of a delegation of Ecuadorian indigenous and community leaders who have built unprecedented support for their efforts from Chevron institutional investors and shareholders, as well as environmental and human rights advocates. The True Cost of Chevron report includes accounts by more than 40 authors -- led by those on the front lines of Chevron's operations -- recording egregious corporate behavior in locations as diverse as California, Burma, Colombia, Ecuador, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, the Philippines and the U.S. Gulf Coast, including Chevron's pursuit of ever-riskier and ever-deeper offshore projects and its role in the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Tom Evans, of the Sugpiat People, Alutitiq Tribe, of the Native village of Nanwalek, Alaska, said, "Chevron dumps billions of gallons of toxic waste from its offshore operations into rich coastal fish habitats of Cook Inlet each year. My people are dying. Our fish are disappearing. Our animals are diseased. Chevron's pollution is to blame." "The True Cost of Chevron Network is putting Chevron on notice," said Antonia Juhasz, co-editor of the True Cost of Chevron report and director of the Energy Program at Global Exchange. "The communities that live and advocate where Chevron operates have formed a powerful international network that is growing in numbers and strength to stand together, hold Chevron fully to account for its harmful practices, demand that it clean up and mend its destructive operations, and that if it cannot operate in the cleanest, safest, most humane manner possible, than it should not operate at all." Emem Okon of the Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, travelled from Nigeria. "Women in the communities near Chevron's gas flares experience high rates of infertility, early menopause, miscarriages, cancer and skin rashes. Think about the loss of an expected child. Think about watching your family members become ill in a places where there are no health facilities. The women of the Niger Delta call on Chevron to leave the oil in the soil. Stop destroying our environment and our people," said Okon. Pius Ginting of Friends of the Earth, travelled from Indonesia to deliver his message. "Instead of wealth generation, Chevron's production in Indonesia's Riau province has been plagued by economic injustice, environmental destruction, and the dislocation and disenfranchisement of Indigenous populations," said Ginting. "Chevron has employed brutal measures to quiet protests, including utilizing Indonesia's notorious security services, bringing charges of human rights abuse, violence and intimidation." The True Cost of Chevron Network has already achieved success. Local community groups in Richmond, California have fought long and hard against Chevron's plan to burn dirtier crude at its refinery there. Their efforts have been supported and amplified by the international Network, brining even greater pressure to bear on Chevron. "This week, working class African Americans, Latinos/as, and Laotians prevented Chevron's ability to process heavier crude in our community, winning two court victories, and preventing Chevron from getting a project exemption in Sacramento," said Jessica Tovar of Communities for a Better Environment. "This is an unprecedented victory." Last year, Chevron moved its shareholder meeting to Houston and denied 17 legal proxy holders their right to attend the meeting, including those who had traveled from Chevron-affected communities in Colombia, Ecuador, Nigeria, Australia, Alaska, Canada and more, who were left standing on the street corner while Chevron's meeting took place. Chevron then arrested five people, including a shareholder inside of the meeting, who opposed the denial of access. Many of those who were turned away last year have returned this year.