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Clean Up Chevron! Coalition Confronts Company Executives at Annual Shareholders Meeting

Wednesday, May 28

San Ramon, CA: At Chevron’s annual shareholders meeting, environmental justice, peace, and human rights groups demanded that Chevron clean up its act – from its Richmond refinery, to Iraq, Burma, Nigeria, Ecuador, Canada and the Philippines. Shareholders and human rights representatives from Ecuador, Nigeria, Burma and Richmond confronted Chevron executives and urged shareholders to support environmental and human rights resolutions inside the meeting. Outside the gates a rally and mass “theater action” supported the resolutions and demanded Chevron stop abusing environmental and human rights. The “CLEAN UP CHEVRON CREW”, donning hazardous materials protective clothing and wielding brooms, “assisted” Chevron in cleaning up its abuses.

While much of the shareholders meeting focused on the human rights and environmental resolutions, none of them were passed. Chevron CEO David O’Reilly defended the company saying it was the “wrong target” for the protests. Chevron is the second largest oil company in the US and has four years of record profits, including over $18 billion last year.

The protesters highlighted a litany of Chevron crimes from Iraq, Burma, Ecuador, Nigeria, the Philippines, Canada, and Richmond, California.

“Mega-mergers and mass consolidation has given Chevron and a small handful of oil companies oligopolistic control of the U.S. oil and gas market – allowing them to manipulate prices and push consumers and the economy to the financial brink,” said Antonia Juhasz of Oil Change International, author of the forthcoming, The Tyranny of Oil. “Chevron hopes to expand its control to Iraq, where it has been an early and eager war profiteer. The U.S. invasion of Iraq gave Chevron, among other companies, access to marketing contracts for Iraqi oil. Chevron has also been at the forefront of pushing for a new oil system in Iraq that would move the country from a nationalized to a privatized model and has been in ongoing negotiations with the Iraqis on oil contracts.”

In a letter to Chevron executives and shareholders, the Iraqi Oil Workers Union called on Chevron to end the war and occupation in Iraq and to stop pushing for the Iraqi Oil Law. Their message read in part, “We call upon the governments, corporations and other institutions behind the ongoing occupation of Iraq to respond to our demands for real democracy, true sovereignty and self-determination, free of all foreign interference.”

In Ecuador Chevron faces a $16 billion lawsuit for destroying the homes, health and environment of five indigenous groups and 80 Ecuadorian communities.

“Indigenous people in Ecuador face an exploding health crisis because of Chevron’s activities,” said Mitch Anderson of Amazon Watch. “It dumped 18.5 billion gallons of toxic waste directly into Ecuador’s ancient rainforest – a spill roughly 30 times larger than the Exxon Valdez disaster. The result has been increased rates of cancer and birth defects that have been devastating for the people who live there.”

In Richmond, California, Chevron’s 106 year old refinery produces over two million pounds of toxic climate-poisoning air and water pollutants each year. Rather than clean up, Chevron is seeking to expand its production to process ‘dirty crude’.

“Chevron needs to take responsibility for its actions around the world and stop pushing its dirty crude refinery expansion that will create more pollution, sickness and death right here in Richmond,” said Torm Nompraseurt of the Richmond, California based Laotian Organizing Project.

In Nigeria, Chevron is charged with providing company helicopters for Nigerian military to attack peaceful protesters. Human rights and environmental groups staged a demonstration on a Chevron oil platform in 1998 to protest the environmental harm Chevron was causing in the Niger River Delta. The Nigerian military, ferried in on Chevron helicopters, opened fire, killing 2 and wounding more.

“Chevron must give up violence as a way of doing business,” said Nigerian human rights leader Omoyele Sowore, who spoke at the shareholder meeting. A victim of the attack, Larry Bowoto, was permanently disabled after being shot by Nigeria’s Mobile Police. He also addressed shareholders and is lead plaintiff in the Bowoto v. Chevron lawsuit to be heard in a San Francisco court in the fall.

In Burma, Chevron pays millions of dollars in oil and gas royalties to the brutal military junta every year. In Alberta, Canada, Chevron is a leading producer of ‘tar-sand’ crude, creating more than 3 times the amount of global warming pollution than conventional oil production.

In the Philippines more than 84,000 residents live in the immediate of Pandacan, Manila’s massive oil depots, owned jointly by Chevron, Petron and Shell. An explosion in Pandacan, Manila, the busy capital of the Philippines, could arguably turn into the world's biggest petrochemical disaster. Pandacan is located in the heart of Manila, the capital of the Philippines where more than 10 million people live. There is no real buffer zone between the depot and the residents, who are regularly exposed to hazardous chemicals that are detrimental to human health and the environment. Community groups and advocates urge for responsible relocation of the oil depot in their midst.

Addressing the shareholders were Luis Yanza, 2008 Goldman Environmental Award Recipient; Emergildo Criollo, Ecuadorian Indigenous Leader; Omoyele Sowore and Larry Bowoto, Nigerian Human Rights Activists; and Naw Musi, an exiled indigenous woman from Burma.

The actions were organized by the Clean Up Chevron Coalition and co-sponsored by Direct Action to Stop the War, Amazon Watch, Laotian Organizing Project, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Justice for Nigeria Now, Global Exchange, Burmese American Democratic Alliance-SF, Filipino American Coalition for Environmental Solidarity, Rainforest Action Network, US Labor Against the War, United for Peace and Justice-Bay Area, Richmond Greens, Richmond Progressive Alliance, West County Toxics Coalition

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