For 25 years, I have been working on the case against Chevron for Ecuador’s worst ever environmental disaster, first as an activist and then as a lawyer. I lived in the Amazon, so I saw the impacts of the oil spills in rising rates of cancer, poisoned animals, toxic soils. At first I collected testimonials and took them to the authorities, but nothing happened so I realised I would need to become a lawyer if we were to get any justice.
Our fight for justice involves some of the poorest indigenous communities against one of the world’s most powerful corporations. For a long time, major corporations have enjoyed impunity; there has been no access to justice for communities suffering the impacts of social and environmental crimes. But our case is reaching an important stage where we are starting to hold this company accountable. After 22 years of legal battles and billions spent by Chevron, we could set an important juridical precedent.
Working with TNI has been important, because after we won the initial case in 2011, we realised that we had to work internationally in order to claim the damages from Chevron as they have no money in Ecuador.
We started work in Europe in 2014 and soon met people like TNI who recognised their struggle was ours. One thing I really like about TNI is their commitment, that they struggle. We share the same sense of indignation that there is no international place to sue transnational corporations, they can’t be judged internationally.
Through TNI we have become involved in the global campaign, contributing to documents and proposals that we advocate for in the UN Human Rights Council in their work for binding regulations on TNCs. A victory in this area would be very important for our case and many others. It is why our joint work is so important.