Steven Donziger took on Chevron Oil in Ecuador and won the largest human rights and environmental court judgment in history. Then he lost his freedom. Watch this Jimmy Dore report on a human rights lawyer who fights the corporate control of our society on behalf of the vulnerable, only to find the institutions of power unite to crucify him.
A decade ago Steven Donziger and a team of Ecuadorian lawyers, on behalf of Indigenous and farmer plaintiffs, won the largest human rights and environmental court judgment in history, a $9.5-billion US verdict against the Chevron Corporation for massive oil pollution in Ecuador’s Amazon basin.
Following the trial, Chevron removed its assets from Ecuador, left the country, and has refused to pay. The company now claims the Ecuador verdict was achieved fraudulently and produced a witness, who told a US court that he possessed knowledge of a bribe. Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled in Chevron’s favor, halting the collection of the pollution fine in the U.S. and placing Donziger in electronic chains in his home.
The persecution of the attorney Steven Donziger is a grim illustration of what happens when we confront the real centers of power.
Donziger, who has been fighting polluting American oil companies for nearly three decades on behalf of indigenous communities and peasant farmers in Ecuador, has been under house arrest in Manhattan for a year. He will go to trial in federal court in New York on September 9 on contempt of court charges, which could see him jailed for six months. Ever since he won a multibillion-dollar judgment in 2011 against the oil giant Chevron, the multinational has come after him personally through litigation that threatens to destroy him economically, professionally, and personally.