Emails revelan campaña ecuatoriana de propaganda en Estados Unidos
November 3, 2015–Emails privados revelan que el presidente ecuatoriano, Rafael Correa, ha gastado millones para contratar a políticos, celebridades, académicos y periodistas estadounidenses para orquestrar una campaña internacional de relaciones publicas contra la petrolera Chevron.
Correa designó por lo menos $6.4 millones de una partida presupuestaria a “Publicidad y Propaganda para Medios de Comunicación” por una agencia de Brooklyn operada por alguien a quien describía como su “amiga de la infancia.”
La campaña fue cuidadosamente coordinada para apoyar el pleito legal del abogado y activista Steven R. Donziger contra el gigante petrolero. En los emails personales o gubernamentales, Correa y su círculo aportaron ideas estratégicas para atacar a la compañía con sede en California cuando el pleito contra Chevron se desbarataba ante una corte federal estadounidense. En los correos electrónicos Correa atacó al juez que fallaría que Donziger ganó de manera fraudulenta su litigio de varios miles de millones de dólares en una corte ecuatoriana contra la petrolera.
Los emails, examinados exclusivamente por American Media Institute, cubren el período entre el verano de 2013 y la primavera de 2014. Y surgieron durante un período crítico en la campaña de 22 años de Donziger para reclamar miles de millones de dólares a Texaco por, en colaboración con la empresa estatal Petroecuador, contaminar un área de la provincia de Sucumbíos desde 1964.
El gobierno ecuatoriano no disputa la autenticidad de los email, y reconoce la existencia de la campaña de propaganda. En respuesta a las preguntas dirigidas al Procurador General ecuatoriano Diego García, la asistente Nina Andrea dijo al American Media Institute que “La República ha dedicado solo una pequeña fracción de los recursos que Chevron ha dedicado a las relaciones públicas.”
Chevron adquirió Texaco en 2001 y diez años más tarde Donziger se encontró con un filón cuando un juez ecuatoriano local le otorgó a su equipo $19 mil millones en daños y perjuicios. Pero este fallo, que hubiera sido el segundo pago más grande de la historia en un litigio medioambiental, nunca llegó a concretarse.
Pruebas de que el equipo legal de Donziger escribió el fallo en nombre del juez Nicolás Zambrano forzó al sistema judicial ecuatoriano a revisar el caso. Aunque la Corte Nacional de Justicia reafirmó el dictamen, lo cortó por la mitad dejándolo en $9.5 mil millones.
Donziger fue objeto de una contrademanda por crimen organizado por parte de Chevron, en la que se reveló que su equipo legal había sobornado a Zambrano y que había organizado un plan para sobornar o neutralizar a otros jueces ecuatorianos.
En abril de 2014, el juez Lewis A. Kaplan, de una corte federal, en el caso civil presentado por Chevron, falló que el veredicto millonario se había conseguido mediante fraude. En la decisión de 500 páginas, el juez describió el caso de Donziger como un plan de crimen organizado que incluía extorsion, fraude electrónico, lavado de dinero, y falsificación, manipulación de testigos, y uso de escándalos sexuales como forma de extorsión.
English version: Secret emails reveal Ecuadoran “propaganda” campaign in U.S.
November 3, 2015–Private emails reveal that Ecuador’s strongman president, Rafael Correa, has spent millions to recruit American politicians, celebrities, academics, and journalists for a worldwide public relations assault against the Chevron Corporation.
Correa ran at least $6.4 million from a budgetary line item for “Publicity and Propaganda in Mass Media” through a Brooklyn firm run by someone he described as a “childhood friend.”
The effort was closely coordinated to support activist lawyer Steven R. Donziger’s lawsuit against the oil giant. From personal and government email addresses, Correa and his inner circle brainstormed strategies to smear the California-based company as Donziger’s lawsuit against Chevron was falling apart under review by a U.S. federal court. In the emails, Correa assailed the judge who would rule that Donziger fraudulently won his multibillion-dollar judgment against the company in an Ecuadorean court.
The emails, reviewed exclusively by the American Media Institute, cover the period between summer 2013 and spring 2014. They came in a critical period in Donziger’s 22-year campaign to collect billions over accusations that Texaco, in a joint venture with Ecuador’s state-owned oil company, polluted an area of Sucumbíos province beginning in 1964.
The Ecuadoran government does not dispute the authenticity of the emails, and admits the existence of the propaganda campaign. In response to a request for comment from Ecuadoran Attorney General Diego Garcia, aide Nina Andrea told the American Media Institute, “The Republic has devoted but a tiny fraction of the resources that Chevron has devoted to public relations.”
Chevron acquired Texaco in 2001 and ten years later Donziger hit pay dirt when a local Ecuadorean judge awarded his team $19 billion in damages. But that judgment – which would have been the second-largest environmental payout in history – quickly came unglued.
Forensic computer evidence showing that members of Donziger’s legal team ghostwrote Judge Nicolas Zambrano’s decision forced even the notoriously corrupt Ecuadoran court system to revisit the case. Although Ecuador’s National Court of Justice affirmed the judgment, it knocked the award in half, down to $9.5 billion.
Even damaging for Donziger was Chevron’s racketeering countersuit, which revealed that his legal team had bribed Zambrano and orchestrated a scheme to bribe or neutralize other Ecuadorean judges. (Separately, Donziger has also parted ways with his former clients, who accuse him of trying to cheat them out of their share of the settlement.)
In April 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, in the civil case prosecuted by Chevron, found that the massive judgment had been “procured by fraud.” In a nearly 500-page ruling, Kaplan described Donziger’s case as a “racketeering” operation that also included extortion, wire fraud, money laundering, forgery, witness tampering, and use of sex scandals as a form of extortion.
As Donziger’s case broke down, however, Correa’s inner circle went into overdrive.
In the emails, Correa takes personal charge of creating themes and talking points. In an August 14, 2013 email discussion with his inner circle, the Ecuadorean strongman sought to liken oil spills being blamed on Chevron in the Lago Agrio region in Sucumbíos province to better known ecological disasters. From his email address Noticias1, Correa referred to the Lago Agrio damage being 30 times worse than the 1989 Exxon Valdez tanker spill off the coast of Alaska.
“Does anyone know the scope of the BP spill in Mexico?” Correa asked. He corrected himself a few minutes later, saying, “I wanted to say GULF of Mexico (USA).” Someone followed up with a briefing of the BP Deepwater Horizon offshore spill of 2010.
Correa, a Marxist economist who took power in 2007, led a team including then-ambassador to Washington Nathalie Cely, Communications Secretary Fernando Alvarado Espinel, Foreign Minister Ricardo Armando Patiño Aroca, and Legal Secretary Alexis Mera. Their “Dirty Hand of Chevron” public relations campaign enlisted luminaries such as Danny Glover, Mia Farrow, and Sharon Stone. Stone did not end up participating, saying through a lawyer that she never agreed to endorse the campaign and did not want to register with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
The Dirty Hand campaign, Correa said in an October 14, 2013 email, would be run in the U.S. through “Maria del Carmen Garay, my friend since childhood,” acknowledging that “the job is too big for her.” Garay ran the public relations firm MCSquared, then in Brooklyn.
Correa’s team also got a cover story in Rolling Stone magazine and favorable coverage in academic media including a Duke University journal. Correa himself toured the United States last year in an “academic visit” that included face time with the presidents of Yale, Harvard and M.I.T.
Correa’s desire for influence in the United States extends beyond Hollywood, news media, and universities. The emails show that his team conducted cordial negotiations with Rep. Jim McGovern (D., Mass) and hired lobbyist and former Rep. Bill Delahunt, (D., Mass.) as part of the anti-Chevron campaign.
Correa has been widely accused of stacking Ecuador’s courts. Human Rights Watch says the president has appointed a judicial council “made up almost entirely of former members of his administration” and “removed hundreds of judges through highly questionable methods.”
The nearly 300-page trove of confidential emails reveals Correa’s intense interest in anti-American causes and considerable success in enlisting sympathetic supporters in the United States and abroad. His presidential budget includes a line-item for international public relations, making it likely the Correa regime has not stopped its effort to win American hearts and minds while attacking American companies and courts.
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