After 16 years, several judges, accusations of espionage, and more twists and turns than a spy novel, the case of Amazon peasants versus the mighty Chevron may soon be coming to an end. If you're unfamiliar with the case, Chevron stands accused of dumping more than 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater into the Amazon rainforest, which left local people stricken by cancer, miscarriages and birth defects. The New York Times yesterday looked into some of the recent plot twists that involve a revolving door for judges and secret video tapes.From the NYT:
Ever since the oil giant released videos in August that were secretly taped by two businessmen who seemed to have the ambition of feasting off the expected $27 billion in damages sought, Ecuadorean officials and Chevron have accused each other of gross improprieties, including espionage.
The Ecuadorean judge hearing the case recused himself after he appeared in the recordings discussing the case and potential damages. He was returned to the case by another judge, but he was then removed again.
The two mysterious businessmen, who used watches and pens implanted with bugging devices to make the recordings, have refused to explain their motivations for going to the furtive meetings in Quito and a jungle outpost to discuss a bribery plot. And now, with questions mounting, one of them has enlisted a lawyer who has represented Barry Bonds.
No one really know what will happen as a result of the tapes. They appear to have been recorded without consent, making them illegal under Ecuadorean law. Chevron claims they have nothing to do with the tapes, but they are using them to try to prove there is a conspiracy against them.
Amazon Watch and Rainforest Action Network have been following the $27 billion dollar lawsuit, the largest environmental lawsuit in history. 60 Minutes profiled the lawsuit in a much discussed piece that you can view here.