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Barring delays, an epic legal battle is expected to be decided this year.
Soon afterwards, Texaco signed the agreement with the Ecuadorean government to clean up 160 waste sites in exchange for immunity from any future legal claims.
“If you go to those areas today, the area is grazing land, jungle or palm oil plantations,” said Campbell, the Chevron spokesman. By contrast, he said, many concerned eco-tourists and journalists have been taken to sites that were polluted by Petroecuador, not Texaco.
Another problem is what he described as a corrupt and biased legal system in Ecuador.
For example, he said that Cabrera, the court-appointed expert charged with reconciling differences between the two sides, is in cahoots with the plaintiffs and has lifted passages from their briefs for his own reports.
Meanwhile, President Correa, a left-wing nationalist who was re-elected April 26, has lambasted Chevron in public, making it even harder for the company to receive a fair trial, according to Campbell.
However, Chevron successfully petitioned a U.S. federal judge in New York — the former home of Texaco’s world headquarters, and the place where the suit was originally filed in 1993 — to transfer the case to Ecuador. In doing so, Chevron praised Ecuador’s legal system as fair and professional.
The plaintiffs, in turn, call Texaco’s immunity agreement the product of corrupt wheeling and dealing. Two Chevron lawyers and seven former Ecuadorean government officials who put together the agreement are now under criminal indictment for lying about the results of Texaco’s clean-up.
Amid all the legal wrangling, the lawsuit has produced about 150,000 pages of testimony and has dragged on for a decade and a half. Barring more delays, the judge is expected to rule on the case by the end of the year.
If Chevron loses, Campbell vowed that the company would appeal. “We’re going to fight this until hell freezes over,” he said. “And then we’ll fight it out on the ice.”
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