This morning the Change Chevron Campaign made a visit to the Chamber of Commerce’s Corporate Citizen Conference. The reason for our visit was that Chevron’s General Manager of Corporate Public Policy, Gary Fisher, was speaking at a plenary session on “partnership.” Mr. Fisher was predictably sent by Chevron to parade around their public partnerships and corporate responsibility projects. Unfortunately you’ll never see Mr. Fisher, or Chevron, parading around their private partnerships or the reality of their projects. This is why we were there to make sure people not only heard Chevron’s rhetoric, but they heard people’s reality.
Prior to the plenary session we distributed copies of “The True Cost of Chevron” throughout the main conference room. We wanted people to be primed on Chevron’s global pollution before Gary Fisher even began his opening statement. These reports, full of community testimonies about living with Chevron’s pollution, no doubt leave an impression on anyone who flips through them.
(* the Chamber of Commerce and Chevron were furious that these materials made it into their “corporate citizenship” bonanza, even going as far as threatening to fine Rainforest Action Network $10,000 for distributing materials. Seems the Chamber of Commerce is a allergic to truth telling as Chevron is.)
I wonder what was going through Gary Fisher’s mind as he walked out to see a room full of people reading this report?
However, rather than the reports, it was the attendance by Maria Lya Ramos, Director of the Change Chevron campaign, that had Chevron squirming it their seats.
During the question and answer period Ms. Ramos took her allotted time to speak to Chevron’s refusal to assume responsibility of their oil disaster and pollution in Ecuador. Though interrupted more than once by security (for asking a critical question no-less) she still put Gary Fisher and Chevron squarely on the hot seat in front of their distinguished crowd at the Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s not right for a multi-billion dollar company to operate, extract for oil in a developing country, dump billions of gallons of toxic sludge, leave those people to sicken and die, while making a profit. But this is exactly what Chevron did in Ecuador…. So Mr. Fisher, when you said that a corporate-public partnership is not based on charity, I think you’re right. It’s based on transparency, accountability, and responsibility. And if Chevron were a responsible company, it would clean up its massive oil pollution in Ecuador’s Amazon. So my question for you, Mr. Fisher, is when is Chevron going to do the right thing and clean up the Ecuadorean Amazon? People are suffering. More than 1400 people have died of oil-related cancers.”
In the video above you’ll see Chevron remains totally silent, having no real answers to as why they continue to delay solutions and refuse to clean up the soil and drinking water pollution of the communities they once operated in as Texaco.
We were not surprised Chevron didn’t have an answer as to their responsibilities in Ecuador. They have never had an answer. Rather than answers and solutions for these communities, Chevron relies on distracting public relations and suspicious legal maneuvers to drag out the lawsuit holding them accountable to nearly 18 years.
It’s obvious again by today’s event that Chevron will always have plenty to say, as long as it has nothing to do with their pollution and accountability in Ecuador. That’s why it’s up to us to keep talking about it and keep Chevron’s responsibility in the spotlight.