The Global Campaign to Reclaim People’s Sovereignty, Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity, comprised of over 250 organizations, trade unions and social movements, stands in solidarity with the communities and social movements affected by oil companies in the Ecuadorian Northern Amazon against the slander campaign of Ecuador’s Minister of Energy and Mines, Fernando Santos Alvite.
On April 26th, the Minister was invited to speak at the 184th Session of the Permanent Specialized Commission of Constitutional Guarantees, Human Rights, Collective Rights, and Interculturality of the National Assembly of Ecuador. He was there to clarify the reasons behind the government’s failure to comply with an Ecuadorian court ruling of September 2021, which mandated the elimination of gas flaring in the oil fields in the Amazon, particularly in the provinces of Sucumbíos and Orellana, within 18 months. The lawsuit was filed by nine young girls concerned about the future of their communities’ health due to the role gas flaring plays in spiking cancer rates, as happened to their parents. Contrary to the Government’s allegations, the gas is flaring where people live, not in empty spaces.
Instead of addressing his responsibility, Minister Santos Alvite chose to attack the affected communities by slandering their lawyer, Pablo Fajardo from the Union of those affected by the oil operations of Texaco- Chevron (UDAPT), organization member of the Global Campaign. The Minister’s accusations are not only bluntly false, but they also corroborate with the criminalization of the communities and movements in the region. Just a couple of months after the murder of the Indigenous leader Eduardo Mendúa, the Minister’s calumnies stir a violent pot, targeting Pablo Fajardo and endangering his life. This appalling behavior shows that the minister still acts as a lawyer to the oil industry he has served for over 40 years. This episode exposes the ugly reality of the “revolving doors”, a form of corporate capture in which someone that worked for the interests of Chevron then becomes the very person responsible for its regulation and supervision on behalf of the State, which is supposed to serve the public interest and not corporate greed.
This situation also underlines the fact that Ecuador’s government remains unwilling to act on the determinations of its own courts. As the Global Campaign has advocated for over a decade, at the national level we need strong legislation to regulate the activities of transnational corporations, providing States with the means and mechanisms to prevent human rights violations and guarantee remedy and justice to affected communities. At the international level, only a Legally Binding Treaty with an effective enforcement mechanism can guarantee the primacy of human rights over corporate interests and the proper and effective regulation of TNCs’ activities; only a Binding Treaty can ensure that vested interests of government officials will not interfere with justice and with peoples’ human right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment as established by the United Nations General Assembly (A/76/L.75).
The struggles faced by these Ecuadorian communities are particularly related to the negotiation process at the UN Human Rights Council addressing the agenda of State responsibility and regulation of the activities of TNCs. Resolution 26/9, which mandates this process, was adopted in 2014 with the active presence of UDAPT and of Pablo Fajardo himself. As Global Campaign we thus join the many voices standing up to demand that the Minister publicly apologize for his defamatory remarks. Furthermore, we demand that Ecuador adheres to its own court decisions, made in accordance with Article 86 of the Constitution of Ecuador, which upholds the “right of the population to live in a healthy and ecologically balanced environment.” We pledge our unwavering support to the nine courageous girls, the peasant and indigenous communities of UDAPT, and Pablo Fajardo in their fight for justice, human, and environmental rights.
The Global Campaign to Reclaim People’s Sovereignty, Dismantle Corporate Power, and Stop Impunity