File photo shows Ecuador President Rafeal Correa holding up his hand covered in spilled oil.
Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry says the US has denied visas to a delegation, which was to travel to the UN General Assembly in New York to present testimony against oil giant Chevron.
In a statement on Friday, the ministry announced that the American Embassy in Quito returned the visas for five Ecuadorian nationals “without any explanation.”
The delegation was scheduled to give testimony during a special event at the UN regarding the environmental impact of the oil giant’s operations in the Ecuadoran region of the Amazon forest.
According to the Ecuadorian government, Chevron is responsible for contaminating two million hectares of the rain forest.
The US oil giant was ordered in 2012 after years of litigation to pay USD 19 billion for polluting the area. However, the oil company has no assets in the Latin American country, which has led the plaintiffs to attempt force payments in Canada, Brazil and Argentina.
Meanwhile, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa launched a campaign last week titled ‘Chevron’s Dirty Hand’, which aims to seek a global boycott of the oil giant based on its refusal to pay the multibillion fines.
At the time of the launch, Correa said the campaign is to “expose to the world Chevron's multimillion dollar campaign to discredit this country. It is a campaign that involves taking away preferential tariffs, and boycotting international trade with the United States.”
The involvement of the US government in the matter was revealed when WikiLeaks published a diplomatic cable between US officials in Quito in 2006, which indicated that Chevron had asked help on the matter from Washington.
“In previous meetings, Chevron reps have suggested that the [US government] pressure the [Government of Ecuador] to assume responsibility for the environmental damage in the areas once operated by Chevron.… It does not seem likely that any available inducement would convince the [government of Ecuador] to assume what may amount to billions of dollars of environmental liability,” the exposed cable read.
Chevron insists that the company was cleared from any responsibility for the environmental damages in a 1995 cleanup agreement.