(photo by Jeff Paterson)
Yesterday I attended a protest outside Chevron’s World Headquaters in San Ramon, California during their annual shareholders meeting. I’m learning a lot about how corporations work, and this meeting (also called an AGM – Annual General Meeting) is the opportunity for shareholders to receive reports on the company’s progress and for the shareholders to put forth resolutions about how they want the company to act. Shareholders can allow someone else to go in their place by issuing a “proxy.” Anyway, some activists from the Bay Area, Ecuador, Burma, and Nigeria went into yesterday’s meeting (using proxies) to try and get their voices heard. The above photo is from when the delegation came out of the meeting and gave a report to supporters and media about what happened inside. The supporters had great visuals, wearing white hazmat suits and holding signs in the shape of brooms that said “Clean Up Chevron.” A broad coalition of groups were involved in this, and you can get an official report through Amazon Watch (here).
Although I’ve been involved in protesting Chevron for a while (see past posts here and here) because of their link to the Iraq War, I didn’t really know a lot about Chevron’s activities around the world. Yesterday I learned some more details about two areas, Nigeria and Ecuador.
1. Nigeria. Here is the story as related to me by Antonia Juhasz, author of the upcoming book The Tyranny of Oil. Ten years ago, a group of protesters occupied an oil platform owned by Chevron. They were peaceful and their demands included that Chevron officials talk with local leaders. Not an unreasonable demand. Even though the group had already negotiated that they were going to leave the platform after their peaceful demonstration, Chevron used its helicopters to fly in Nigerian military who SHOT THE PROTESTERS. Two were killed. Later, the Nigerian military, again with Chevron’s aid, sought retribution by decimating the villages of some of the protesters. Can it be any more clear that corporations will kill for oil? Not like, kill people over time with pollution like they are in Richmond, California, but outright KILL people.
Well, now Chevron is being sued in U.S. court, and it will go to trial in San Francisco in September. This is significant because other cases (such as a suit against Chevron in Ecuador) have not been heard by U.S. courts. You can read more about this case at the Earth Rights site.
2. In Ecuador, Chevron (Formerly ChevronTexaco) is responsible for oil spills in the Amazon that have resulted in immense environmental destruction. The case is being heard in court in Ecuador right now, and an independent investigator for the court recently put the damage estimate at between $8 and $16 BILLION. You can find out more at the ChevronToxico site.
Here’s a link to some more photos by Jeff Paterson and here is Scott Parkin’s post from It’s Getting Hot in Here