Amazon Defense Coalition Responds to Cabrera Conflict of Interest News with Bizarre Leftist Diatribe

In response to damning new evidence exposing Richard Cabrera’s conflict of interest, the Amazon Defense Coalition posted an article that can only be described as a left-wing inspired rant.  By injecting the names Rove, Bush and Ashcroft, the author throws red meat to wild-eyed, left-wing activists in an effort to distract readers from Cabrera’s illegal attempt to hide the fact that he would gain financially from a guilty verdict in the lawsuit against Chevron in Ecuador.

The political nature of the article is bizarre, but understandable when you look at the major players behind the lawsuit against Chevron.  It turns out that they’re all longtime Democratic Party operatives. From the trial lawyers funding the lawsuit, to lobbyist and PR consultants, and even politicians, they all share the same political ideology.  As ADC’s article states, “So what’s behind this? The answer is politics.”

Interesting passages stand out in the article that suggests the author may be Karen Hinton, Amazon Defense Coalition’s U.S. public relations consultant.  For example, the author attempts to analyze Chevron’s media strategy and concludes that, “[a]ny other company would use a consultant or public relations firm to execute this type of messy media hit job.”  Only someone in the PR biz would come up with a line like that.  Ironically, Hinton is an expert at messy media hit jobs.  Click here, and you’ll find a long list of inaccurate statements and missteps by Hinton on behalf of the Amazon Defense Coalition.  So let’s just chalk up the above quote to projection.

More specifically, Hinton’s messy PR practices were revealed in Amazon Defense Coalition’s response to Chevron’s press release about Cabrera’s conflict of interest.  Below is an excerpt from an article at the Amazon Post exposing several misleading statements made by Hinton.

From The Amazon Post:

“Cabrera disclosed to the court that he owned a clean-up company before his appointment as Special Master. This fact was properly cited by the court as one of the reasons he was qualified to do the damages assessment.”

This is a yet another of the Amazon Defense Front’s blatant attempts to mislead the public.

Exhibit 4 from the filing contains everything that Cabrera has disclosed.  Nowhere does Cabrera disclose the fact that he was a co-founder, general manager, majority stockholder, and legal representative of CAMPET at the time of his appointment as an “independent” technician or during his work for the court. CAMPET is a soil remediation company and preapproved contractor to PetroecuadorCabrera affirmatively swore to the court that he had no conflicts of interest.  This has shown to be untrue by virtue of his financial interests in CAMPET.

The Amazon Defense Front’s statement is intended to misrepresent Cabrera’s disclosure about working for a different remediation company, CONGEMINPA, prior to his appointment.  Cabrera disclosed that his work with CONGEMINPA ended in 2003, and Cabrera had also sold all of his stock in GONGEMINMPA in 2003, years before his 2007 appointment in this case.  This past connection to a remediation company did not present a conflict of interest at the time of his appointment.  The Amazon Defense Front’s statement is meant to create the false impression that Cabrera disclosed his interest in CAMPET, the company he continued to own, manage, and legally represent during his entire tenure as a supposedly “independent” expert in the case.  But he did not make any such disclosure.  In fact, German Yanez, the judge who appointed Cabrera, told Dow Jones Newswires Feb. 9 he didn’t know about CAMPET or whether the company’s registration as a bid contractor for Petroecuador constituted any conflict of interest.

“All I know is what I saw in his curriculum (vitae),” said Yanez. “If there’s missing information, I don’t know why.”

“Chevron thought so highly of Cabrera’s qualifications that it accepted him as a court-appointed expert in an earlier part of the case and paid his fees as required by court rules.”

This is factually incorrect.

Cabrera was appointed by the court in an earlier phase of the trial, but he performed no work and at no time has Chevron paid Cabrera for anything. On the contrary, the plaintiffs paid Cabrera more than $200,000 for his subsequent work.

Chevron has repeatedly and unwaveringly questioned Cabrera’s qualifications since his original involvement in the case, has opposed his report, and has repeatedly told the court that his damages assessment is without basis, is biased, and was developed with and co-written by the plaintiffs.  At no time has Chevron ever “thought highly of Cabrera’s qualifications” to be an expert in this case.

“The fact Cabrera’s company is qualified to bid on clean-up contracts offered by Ecuador’s state-owned oil company is irrelevant. That company, Petroecuador, is not a party to the case against Chevron and would have no role in any eventual cleanup.”

This is factually incorrect.

Petroecuador was the majority partner in the consortium and is responsible for every site in question. Moreover, no remediation work in the oil producing region could occur without Petroecuador’s active involvement, participation, and authorization.  Simply put, nothing could happen in Petroecuador’s oil fields, including a remediation ordered by the court, without Petroecuador.

Meanwhile, the government of Ecuador has already acknowledged that it expects to participate in any prospective remediation work.  At a September 2009 press conference, Ecuador’s Prosecutor General, Washington Pesantez said, “Although I don’t have the exact figures, 10 percent would go to the plaintiffs if Chevron is found guilty; 90 percent would be delivered to the State for remediation or bio-remediation activities that would serve to correct biologic and chemical mechanisms…”

In addition, “the fact Cabrera’s company is qualified to bid on clean-up contracts offered by” Petroecuador is extremely relevant: — Cabrera’s report attempts at every turn to exonerate Petroecuador for 20 years of sloppy practices.  In his report Cabrera exonerates Petroecuador of the current environmental conditions in the region, grossly inflates the scope of remediation and costs of the work, and even calls on the court to award $375 million to upgrade Petroecuador’s infrastructure.  Cabrera’s company’s registration to do work for Petroecuador provides the perfect incentive for Cabrera to go to such absurd lengths to lavish benefits on Petroecuador in his report, and the perfect opportunity for Petroecuador to return the favor.

“Cabrera by virtue of his role in the case would be barred from having a role in a future clean-up.”

This statement is inherently contradictory and is made without any factual support. First the Amazon Defense Front says there is no conflict at all, and then it says that Cabrera does indeed have a conflict of interest.  His financial stake in remediation explains why Cabrera, on at least ten different occasions, concealed from the court his conflict of interest — a violation of Ecuador law.  Accordingly, Cabrera’s report should be rejected and Cabrera’s connection to Petroecuador should be investigated.

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