Ecuador’s foreign ministry announced on Friday that the US has seemingly denied visas to a delegation that was set to travel to the UN General Assembly in New York to present their case regarding an ongoing dispute against Chevron-Texaco.
According to the ministry’s official announcement, the visas for the five Ecuadorian nationals were returned by the US Embassy in Quito “without any explanation.”
That group was to present testimony during a special event at the UN regarding the ecological impact caused by Chevron-Texaco’s oil operations in the Amazon rainforest region of Ecuador - which contaminated two million hectares, according to the country’s government.
At stake in the case is a US$19 billion judgment awarded by an Ecuadorean court against Chevron for cleanup and ecological damage, which is currently being fought at The Hague.
That case faced a setback on Tuesday when an interim ruling in favor of Texaco Corp., later acquired by Chevron, found that a 1995 agreement absolved the company from claims of “collective damage.”
The case against Chevron-Texaco has been ongoing for two decades, and stems from the oil company’s operations in the Amazon which date back to the period between 1972 and 1990.
In February 2011, a judgment by a provincial court in Ecuador produced the multi-billion dollar award against Chevron. However, as the company currently has no holdings in Ecuador, the plaintiffs have instead attempted to force payment in Canada, Brazil, and Argentina.
The $19 billion verdict was the result of a 1993 lawsuit filed in New York federal court by a group of American attorneys – including Steven Donziger - on behalf of 88 residents of the Amazon rainforest. In the intervening period, Texaco was acquired by Chevron in 2001, and plaintiffs re-filed their case in Ecuador in 2003.