02 January 2009

Chevron: Economic Colonialism and Murder

The case against Chevron is rare in that it actually made it into the United States court system:

"Chevron is charged with complicity in activities of the Nigerian military, including the shooting and killing of two protesters on the offshore Parabe drilling platform. At the time of the violent incident, plaintiff Larry Bowoto and other members of Niger Delta region communities were protesting Chevron’s oil operations, which they claimed caused massive environmental and economic damage in the impoverished area. Plaintiffs have filed claims under the federal Alien Tort Statute, as well as for wrongful death, assault and battery."
(The AmLaw Daily,
Trial in Landmark Human Rights Case Against Chevron Begins Today)

Chevron (and Texaco) certainly has deep interests in Nigeria, and the corporation claims that it was only protecting it's oil facilities from threatening protesters. The case is a modern example of the Alien Tort Claims Act, which enables foreigners to file claims against U.S. Corps in the United States.

These are just the latest claims in years of complaints against Chevron and other American oil corps in the Nigerian regions, as the Movement of the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) are another example of claims made against Chevron in the early 1990s. The MOSOP accused Chevron and Shell of polluting their homeland to the point of being unlivable with their oil activities. Since this time there has been continuous claims by indigenous peoples in the Niger Delta region of being mistreated by American oil corps like Chevron.

The environmental impact upon the Nigerian Delta area by oiling companies is undeniable. The careless practices of oil industries like Chevron have contributed to massive environmental impact, limiting the safety and welfare of indigenous peoples living in the area. According to the World Bank most of all of the oil revenue in Nigeria is eaten up by only 1% of the Nigerian population--the government elite. It is because of this that corporations like Chevron are said to have the ability to use the Nigerian military to murder protesters whose only hope is to have a clean and safe environment in which to live or fair working conditions in which to work.

One of the protesters who was a part of the group accused by Chevron of threatening the corporations oil facilities was Larry Bowoto, who still carries the scars of the bullets shot by the Nigerian military accused of working with Chevron. Bowoto, however, vehemently denies any violent activities during the protest, claiming that the protest was peaceful and that he "never expected Chevron to be so brutal."

The activities of Chevron Corp has also been condemned by such groups as Amnesty International, who cite numerous human rights violations in the Nigerian Delta area by oil corps like Chevron.

No price can ever be put upon a human being's life or safety. Oil has devastated environments and cultures around the globe, and though Chevron is but one example, it must be singled out and boycotted nonetheless. American consumers must deny profits to those who wish to draw dividends from human suffering and exploitation.

Further reading:
Amnesty International
article: Amnesty International report of human rights violations perpetrated by Chevron
article: Chevron faces suit over Nigerian violence (San Francisco Chronicle)
article: Blood Oil (Vanity Fair)
Petroleum in Nigeria
article: Trial in Landmark Human Rights Case Against Chevron Begins Today (The AmLaw Daily)

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