Week Thirteen

During the disucssion in class last week about mining in Latin America, its effects and the peoples’ reponses I think we touched on, or at least started to, the general topic of this week’s reading which seemed to mainly focus on the continued expoitation of Latin America. I focused mainly on the Lago Agrio Case in Ecuador which actually reminded me of another case that happened in Nigeria between Shell and the Ogoni tribe. One difference between the two however, is that the people have received their settlement which was determined through a federal court in New York, although there was also a great deal of violence involved in this case (there is a lot more to be said about what happened in Nigeria than what I shared, so if you want to read more about it here’s a link to an article  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/jun/08/nigeria-usa  ). The people in Ecuador never received their settlement, despite appealing to a court in New York too.  Instead, Texaco who I believe at that point had already merged with Chevron, demanded that the trial be taken to Ecuador, I’m assuming in part because the government had previously been in favour of multinational companies- which is another issue in itself that is up for discussion because why do these governments allow corporations to pollute and destroy the land? The answer usually is: for economic profit and development. However, another reason as to why they wanted the place of the trial to change was to drag it on. It has been going on for an exceptionally long time, Texaco (Chevron) was first accused in 1993 and decisions are still being disputed today over 20 years later. This is an example of the strategy that they used probably so that the plaintiffs would give up. They did not and the ironic part of Chevron pushing for the trial to be held in Ecuador is that the court there actually ruled in favour of the people. Chevron refused to pay the settlement and took the case back to America. I think an important thing to mention about this case is that there was a fair amount of allegations of fraud and manipulation on both sides which complicates the situation. It provides an unclear story and discredits both sides.  As well, the plaintiffs were not completely innocent and the judicial system was not entirely lawful. To what degree do you think this matters in the larger scheme of things?

What can be done to hold multinational corporations more accountable? There has been some changes over the past few years, but clearly larger steps/more regulations need to be put in place, but who is willing to create them and how can they be enforced (think of the International Court of Justice)?

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