President denies seeking to improve his imageMonday, August 4, 2014
Correa: Ecuador paid US$6M to fight back against Chevron
QUITO — Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said yesterday that his administration paid US$6.4 million to a PR agency in the United States to fight back against the “attacks” from oil company Chevron, which has been accused of causing environmental damage to his country’s Amazonian region.
“We have a huge fight against this corrupt company based” in the United States, which has spent “more than US$400 million” in lawyers and PR agencies “to annihilate Ecuador,” Correa said on Saturday.
The president said that his administration was forced to hire the services of MCSquares, a PR company based in New York. “We had to hire the firm to defend the country against Chevron’s criminal attacks. (Chevron) has PR agencies, hundreds of lawyers, newspapers and radios because it funds political campaigns,” he said.
Correa denied, however, some of the rumours that have circulated in local press that say his administration made payments to a firm in New York to promote the image of the country and that of the president himself.
“You have no idea how sensitive this is and who we are facing,” he underlined.
He highlighted that his country cannot remain passive before Chevron, which “has sued Ecuador for US$18 billion at The Hague, which could eventually bankrupt the country.”
“Nobody is seeking to improve their image. These firms have been hired to defend us from this monster that wants to destroy our homeland,” he insisted.
Chevron was sentenced in 2013 to pay US$9.5 million in liabilities for environmental damage caused between 1964 and 1990 when oil company Texaco operated in Ecuador’s Amazonian region. Texaco was later purchased by Chevron.
The oil giant rejects the accusations and says the sentence is the result of a plot between the Ecuadorean government and the judicial system in the country.
“You don’t realize how irresponsible you are being. You don’t know who you are benefitting, who we are facing. What do you expect, that we don’t defend ourselves,” Correa asked those who criticize him.
Herald with Télam