by the El Reportero’s news services
Judgment nears in landmark $6-billion-environmental trial
Quito – Chevron’s three decades of devastating toxic dumping in the Ecuadorian rainforest will be in the spotlight this week as the actress and environmentalist Daryl Hannah, tours communities ravaged by cancer and other diseases related to the contamination.
Meanwhile the Crude Reflections photo exhibit, which graphically illustrates the human toll of the disaster, will go on display in Ecuador for the first time, at Quito’s prestigious Guayasamin Museum. The opening, on Wednesday, will be attended by Ms. Hannah and Q’orianka Kilcher, who starred as Pocahontas, opposite Colin Farrell, in “The New World”. Ms. Kilcher is of mixed Peruvian indigenous descent and is Amazon Watch’s Youth Ambassador. Last year she visited Achuar communities poisoned by toxic dumping in the northern Peruvian Amazon.
The developments come as a landmark class-action lawsuit against Texaco (now Chevron), which has dragged on for years, is finally due to reach a conclusion in early 2008. The presence of Ms. Hannah and Ms. Kilcher are expected to generate huge public interest in Ecuador where Texaco operated from the 1960s to the 1990s, making billions of dollars of profit.
During that period Texaco dumped 18.5 billion gallons of formation waters, a toxic byproduct of the drilling process, directly into a vast inhabited area of the northern Ecuadorian Amazon in contravention of industry standards of the time. The 30,000 plaintiffs are demanding an environmental remediation that has been provisionally priced at $6 billion.
Uribe hopes to wrongfoot opponents with sudden prisoner release
COLOMBIA – With the parapolitical scandal threatening to turn Colombia into an international “pariah”, in the words of President Alvaro Uribe himself, the government has attempted to take the initiative by offering to release hundreds of imprisoned guerrillas. The idea has two purposes: to distract attention away from the revelations about the government’s links with paramilitary organisations and to persuade the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia to release some of its high-profile hostages, including the former presidential candidate, Ingrid Betancourt.
Kirchnerista Filmus second in Buenos Aires
ARGENTINA – The rightwing businessman Mauricio Macri won 3 June’s election for the Buenos Aires mayoralty with a convincing 45.6 percent of votes, but will have to face a runoff with President Néstor Kirchner’s favoured candidate, Education Minister Daniel Filmus, who got 24 percent. The polls had all predicted that Macri would win, although not by such a wide margin. The real race was for second place and between the incumbent mayor Jorge Telerman and Filmus. The Kirchner camp loudly celebrated Filmus’s second-place performance; this election was a test of the president’s own popularity and had Filmus failed to even make the runoffs it would have boded ill for the incumbent administration in October’s general elections. The turnout was surprisingly high at over 75 percent.