The Chevron Corporation and it’s CEO John Watson hit a new low in disrespecting human rights and showing it’s true colors to how they regard the communities they pollute and operate in. 27 people from around the world traveled to Houston for Chevron’s 2010 Annual Shareholders meeting. Of the 27 delegates from countries ranging from Angola, Burma, Australia, Ecuador, and Nigeria, only 7 were allowed to enter the meeting. The other 20 were refused entry to the shareholders meeting even though they held legal proxies to do so.
One of the Internationals that were refused into the shareholder meeting was Guillermo Grafa, an Indigenous leader from Ecuador. “We don’t need empathy from Chevron, we need them to accept full responsibility for the pain and suffering they have caused our people and clean up Ecuador now,” said Grafta.
Also outside, Chevron arrested four shareholders and representatives who refused to leave Chevron property after they were denied access to the meeting. The 4 were arrested on trespassing charges and hauled into waiting police vans. The four arrested at the entrance were Juan Parras a long time environmental justice activist in Houston and founder of TEJAS, an EJ group fighting refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast; Rev. Jerome Davis a livelong civil rights hero who marched in Selma and has long fought for environmental justice in Richmond, CA; and Mitch Anderson and Han Shan from Amazon Watch, an organization working in solidarity with Indigenous communities fighting Chevron in Ecuador.
Much like the tone of the meeting outside, inside the shareholders meeting was filled with disrespect, outrage, and arrests.
One of the few community members allowed inside the shareholder meeting was Mariana Jimenez, a 71-year-old grandmother from Ecuador. She spoke directly to Chevron’s CEO and Board and demanded an end to Chevron’s lies about the massive oil contamination in Ecuador that is destroying her community in the Amazon rainforest.
“In 1976, I lost two young children. In 1979, one of my daughters became very sick with an unknown illness on her throat and lost her voice for three months. People are still getting sick every day. There are children born with birth defects. I want him [Watson] to take responsibility for the crime that his company committed in my country.” Watson replied callously by calling Chevron empathetic to Ecuador’s pollution while saying that Chevron has been richly rewarded by the purchase of Texaco. (the original operator in Ecuador).
In addition to the arrestees outside the meeting, Antonia Juhasz of the Chevron Program at Global Exchange was also arrested inside the meeting. After delivering a scathing analysis of Chevron’s global environmental and human rights abuses she was forcefully removed from the meeting as CEO Watson abruptly ended the meeting nearly a full hour early.
The events that corresponded with Chevron’s attempted self-celebration of profit were a true indicator of the global coordination and resistance against Chevron’s operations world-wide. We will change Chevron, because energy shouldn’t cost lives
Pictures from the day can be found on RAN’s flickr feed HERE
Note: As of Thursday all arrested have been released and await their hearing on June 6.