ChevronTexaco Responds to Allegations by Plaintiffs' Lawyers in Rainforest Lawsuit
Calls Claims "Completely Without Merit"
QUITO, Ecuador, Oct. 31, 2003 -- ChevronTexaco today presented rebuttals to allegations made by plaintiffs' lawyers in their lawsuit accusing it of environmental damage, and reiterated its arguments for dismissal of suit.
At a news conference today in Quito, Rodrigo Perez, legal representative of Texaco Petroleum Company, said, "The attorneys for the plaintiffs have waged a decade-long publicity campaign to try to win in the newsroom what they haven't been able to prove in the court room," said Perez. "We strongly encourage the judge to look past these baseless allegations and focus on the facts in this case. There is no doubt that the facts are in our favor."
Perez noted that the most recent survey cited by plaintiffs' attorneys regarding environmental conditions of the remediated sites was in fact carried out by the Amazon Defense Front, the very organization that is behind the lawsuit. "A so-called study conducted by a backer of the lawsuit is completely lacking in credibility and quite rightly totally disregarded," said Perez.
Perez also noted that in ChevronTexaco's cross-examination of General Rene Vargas, former Minister of Energy and Mines, General Vargas conceded that he had signed many letters demonstrating direct knowledge and approval of the Ministry's close management of the oil consortium, in contradiction to the plaintiffs' claims that as Minister he had no such knowledge.
Perez labeled as "ridiculous" the claim by David Russell, a consultant for the plaintiffs, who told the media that the costs for further remediation could be as high as $6.5 billion. "We've never believed the original $1 billion claim by the plaintiffs was based on any reality, so in our view this new claim is six times as unrealistic."
Perez also noted that the company has petitioned the court to examine a volume of evidence that demonstrates the plaintiffs' claims are without merit.
"For a decade the attorneys for the plaintiffs have attempted to convince the media and the public that their claims are plausible," said Perez. "The evidence we intend to present will prove that it is patently ridiculous and without merit to make allegations about TexPet's activities while ignoring the exclusive operations of the fields by PetroEcuador over the past 13 years, other oil producing activities, the impacts of the vast amount of agribusiness, deforestation, road-building and other commerce sanctioned by the government in its colonization campaign.
"Our evidence demonstrating the government's close involvement in the management of this consortium will prove the misleading nature of plaintiffs' allegations. Finally, the national and municipal governments' 1998 release of Texaco from all obligations and liabilities is comprehensive and unambiguous. It leaves no doubt that claims against the company are not valid."
Updated: October 2003