POLITICS
09/04/2013 05:15 pm ET Updated Sep 04, 2013

Cher Produces Video Backing Ecuadorian Villagers In $19 Billion Fight With Chevron

Cher is not happy with Chevron. The singer and actor has taken up the cause of Ecuadorian villagers who're pursuing the gas company for damages they have been awarded for the destruction of their land in the course of exploration and extraction of oil.

Bloomberg Businessweek sums up the case at issue:

In the 1970s and ’80s, Texaco pumped crude in the rainforest in northeastern Ecuador, producing profits for itself, much larger profits for the Ecuadorian government, and an ecological fiasco in the formerly pristine jungle. In 1993, Donziger and other American plaintiffs’ attorneys filed suit in New York on behalf of Ecuadorian Indians and farmers living near the oil operations. Texaco fought for nine years to get the case moved to Ecuador, whose judicial system the company insisted was perfectly capable of resolving the dispute. In a textbook illustration of the ancient jurisprudential principle of Be Careful What You Wish For, Texaco won the venue fight and ended up in a provincial Amazonian courthouse. There, Donziger’s penchant for guerrilla legal warfare gave him an advantage. In 2001, Chevron acquired Texaco and inherited Donziger as a foe.

Forced to address the merits in the Ecuadorian trial court, Chevron argued that Texaco had mopped up some of the waste oil; the Ecuadorian national oil company, Petroecuador, was actually responsible for any pollution that remained; and Donziger manufactured bogus evidence of contamination and human illness. The Ecuadorian judiciary sided with Donziger—to the tune of $18.2 billion (since bumped up to $19 billion). Chevron, which doesn’t have assets to speak of in Ecuador, immediately vowed never to pay Donziger’s clients a dime.

The New York Times previously profiled the attorney representing the villagers, whom Chevron has since turned the tables on, accusing of fraud.

“It is unfortunate that well-intentioned people are being misled about the fraud in Ecuador," Morgan Crinklaw, a Chevron spokesperson, told HuffPost. "The facts of the matter are well established and compelling: The plaintiffs’ lawyers’ own scientific experts have admitted that the case against Chevron in Ecuador based on fabricated evidence, which is why the lawyers resorted to fraud and extortion.”

ALSO ON HUFFPOST:

PHOTO GALLERIES
Obama With Celebrities
Subscribe to the Politics email.
How will Trump’s administration impact you?

CONVERSATIONS