QUITO, November 20, 2013 (AFP) – Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa has promised to resign if Chevron proves his government interfered in a trial over Amazon pollution that resulted in a record fine against the US oil giant.
“Let Chevron prove that the government interfered in the judgment and I will resign my post,” Correa said Tuesday at a news conference in Guayaquil.
Last week, the country’s highest court confirmed the 2011 verdict against Chevron by a regional court, which the oil giant challenged. The high court’s only concession was to cut the fine by half to $9.5 billion.
“The legal case is closed. The courts have spoken. We have never been mixed up in this case,” Correa said.
Faced with Chevron’s refusal to pay the fine, the Ecuadoran president has launched a campaign for an international boycott of the company.
The environmental damage to the Amazon forest dates back to when the US oil company Texaco operated in Ecuador between 1964 and 1990, before it was acquired by Chevron.
Sued by a class of 30,000 members of communities in the affected region, Chevron blamed state-owned Petroecuador for the pollution.
It took the case to a court in New York and the permanent court of arbitration in the Hague, accusing the Ecuadoran courts of corruption and the authorities in Quito of interfering.
Even at half the original amount, the fine against Chevron is one of the biggest in environmental law, surpassing the $4.5 billion levied against ExxonMobil for the 1989 Alaska oil spill.