Ecuador: Another Victory for the People

The Middle East, Wisconsin, and now the victory of Ecuadorians over the oil giant, Texaco (owned by Chevron)! We the people are taking back the reins of power!
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The Middle East, Wisconsin, and now the victory of Ecuadorians over the oil giant, Texaco (owned by Chevron)! We the people are taking back the reins of power!

It really started in Latin America where during the past decade ten countries democratically voted in presidents determined to stop the corporatocracy from ruthlessly exploiting their people and natural resources. Every one of these ten countries was ruled by ruthless CIA-puppet dictators for most of my life. Now that has changed. Perhaps it is fitting that among all the victories occurring today, the one against a single corporation, an oil giant that epitomizes the corporatocracy, happened in Latin America.

When I was writing Hoodwinked, the $27 billion class action environmental lawsuit filed on behalf of 30,000 Ecuadorians against Texaco was still in full swing. It alleged that the company had dumped more than 16 billion gallons of toxic wastes into rain forest rivers (compared to BP's 210 million gallons of oil in the Gulf and the Exxon Valdez's 11 million gallons in Alaska) and that these wanton actions had destroyed fragile Amazonian environments and killed hundreds of people. The suit, at the time, was the largest environmental lawsuit in the history of the planet.

Ecuador is a classic case. In the 1970s its people were targets of predatory lending. Unscrupulous international banks promoted billions of dollars in borrowing by Ecuadorian dictators who blew most of the money on projects that made them and their cronies - as well as US construction/manufacturing consortiums -- wealthy. After the transition to democracy, the Ecuadorian people were stuck holding the bag. Ecuador's debt has risen to more than 3.9 billion today. In 2007, the Ecuadorian government paid $1.75 billion in debt service, more than it spent on health care, social services, the environment and housing and urban development combined. For the corporatocracy, debt is one of its most powerful weapons.

Unfortunately, Ecuador is just one of many examples. Over the years, unelected dictators have been placed into power through the clandestine efforts of multinational corporations, international banks, the CIA, and economic hit men throughout Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. The citizens were not involved in making or accepting the deals these leaders signed that left their countries awash in debt and their lands, air, and waters poisoned by toxic wastes.

The good news is that the tide is turning. The Ecuadorian judge awarded an $8.6 billion fine against Chevron (plus another $8.6 billion in punitive damages). Less than the amount sought by the victims, it is nevertheless a huge victory. Like the popular uprisings in the Middle East and Wisconsin, it is also symbolic of our changing world, one which we the people are determined to take back.

Yet we must all participate. The corporatocracy will fight back. In Ecuador, Chevron-Texaco has already stated that they do not intend to pay and that, since they have sold all their assets in that country, the plaintiffs have no leverage. What that means is that you and I must continue to pressure Chevron and other oil companies. We must not purchase their gas. We must battle against toxic dumping everywhere.

I urge you as well if you have not yet seen the movie Crude to watch it and to support the Ecuadorian battle via your social networks.

We must stop the spread of predatory capitalism. We must all reject the social and environmental costs that this mutant virus spreads. The defining goal of the corporatocray -- that the only responsibility of business is to make short-term profits -- must be replaced by a recognition that corporations have to serve the public interest.

I urge you today to support the fight against Chevron. I also urge you to support the battle in Wisconsin by going here.

And continue to support the people of Egypt.

Remember, we can ALL change the world for the better.

John Perkins

Twitter - @economic_hitman

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