Chevron Meeting to Highlight Companies Successes Turned into Forum on Abuses: Oil Giant Withers Under Criticism from Communities Suffering Human Rights and Environmental Harms

May 25, 2011
Contact: Antonia Juhasz

Photos, Video and Interviews Available–

San Ramon, CA — Today at Chevron’s annual shareholder meeting, 22 indigenous, First Nation, and other impacted community members and supporters who had traveled to the company’s headquarters from locations around the globe and across the state confronted CEO John Watson with the brutal human and environmental abuses caused by the oil giants operations.

Watson struggled to defend his company’s record in the face of the devastating criticism from institutional investors, shareholders, and impacted community members and was instead forced to turn multiple times to pre-packed video and slideshows prepared prior to the meeting.

Outside the meeting, 150 supporters rallied in a colorful and creative protest against the company’s operations around the world and across their home state. [video footage]

Community leaders from Angola, Ecuador, Nigeria, Indonesia, the tarsands of Canada, Alaska, Texas, and Richmond, and those representing communities in China, Australia, the Philippines, Kazakhstan, and more attended the meeting as share- and proxy-holders providing first-hand descriptions of their lives and environment in and around Chevron’s operations.

While Watson tried to highlight the company’s human rights, environmental, and economic successes, when the microphones were opened to shareholders, those successes quickly turned to failures. Half the meeting became a referendum on the company’s disastrous track record of supporting brutal dictators in Burma, decimating local livelihoods though its offshore operations in Alaska and Angola, and causing mass pollution and destruction of human health in locations as diverse as Ecuador, Richmond, California, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, and Nigeria.

Emem Okon of the Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Centre, who had come from Nigeria’s Niger Delta, challenged Watson’s assertions that the company had improved its record on flaring.

“I am here to represent the women of the Niger Delta who live in communities near gas flares and who suffer health issues of infertility, early menopause, miscarriages, cancer, rashes; women who fish in waters polluted by Chevron.” Ms. Okon asked CEO Watson, “When will Chevron stop environmental violence against women? When will Chevron stop the toxic flares in the Niger Delta. When will Chevron management meet with the women of the Niger Delta and their international allies.”

Thomas Evans of the Nanwalek Tribe spoke in response to Chevron’s claims of the health and safety of its offshore operations. Evans spoke of the harmful impacts from the toxic discharge of produced waste from Chevron’s offshore drilling rig on his community and environment in Cook Inlet, Alaska. Mr. Evans said he will return to Alaska and report to his Tribe that Chevron CEO Watson “does not care about our subsistence way of life, and is totally disrespectful of our culture, and of all the people dying of cancers.”

Gitz Crazyboy (Ryan) Deranger, of the First Nation Dene/Pikini (Blackfoot) people, came to the meeting from Alberta, Canada where Chevron is partner in extensive tarsands operations. “Chevron’s pollution is killing our way of life. Our moose and caribou are dying. Our fish are dying. Chevron is destroying our culture, Chevron is committing cultural genocide.”

Elias Isaac, of the Open Society Institute, traveled from Angola to attend the meeting and directly challenge Watson’s assertion that Chevron is supporting human rights and local economies in Angola. “Chevron’s understanding and definition of human rights is completely distorted. Their approach is to respond with charity work, but this does not address the long-term sustainable economic and social challenges facing the local fishing communities of Cabinda Province.”

Each speaker carried a copy of the True Cost of Chevron: An Alternative Annual Report, on which all had worked. They provided the report to eager shareholders, but when Richmond resident Reverend Kenneth Davis attempted to hand the report to Watson, he was stopped by private security guards. Watson threatened to stop the entire meeting if the Reverend insisted on handing the report directly to him.

At the meetings conclusion, the community leaders exited to a cheering and supportive crowd. They called the meeting a success and vowed to return again next year.

See Global Exchange’s True Cost of Chevron Network page for more information.


Chevron Has 5 Activists Arrested and Bars Entry to Global Victims of Its Practices at Annual Shareholders’ Meeting

Chevron has had five protesters arrested at its annual shareholders meeting in Houston and refused to allow another two dozen people from Chevron-affected countries around the world, like Nigeria, Ecuador and Burma. Those denied entry held legal shareholder proxies. The True Cost of Chevron Network says it organized the protest to call attention to Chevron’s human rights and environmental record. We speak to Antonia Juhasz, director of the Chevron Program at Global Exchange, who spent the night in jail after her arrest; and Emem Okon, an activist from Nigeria and the founder and executive director of Kebetkache Women Development and Resource Center in the Niger Delta. [rush transcript]

For immediate release:

May 27, 2010

* Sangita Nayak, 414 412 4518,
* Diana Pei Wu, 510 333 3889,

Chevron denies access to shareholder representatives in bid to silence truth about its  human right and environmental impacts

UPDATE (1:15 pm CDT; May 27, 2010): All 5 are released and safe

HOUSTON, TX – Antonia Juhasz, lead author and editor of “The True Cost of Chevron: An Alternative Annual Report” was forcibly dragged from Chevron’s annual meeting yesterday as shareholders and their proxies chanted, “Chevron Lies, People Die.” CEO John Watson abruptly ended the meeting. Juhasz was released from jail this afternoon at 1:15 pm CDT after being arrested in Chevron’s annual shareholder meeting yesterday morning around 10:00 am CDT and kept overnight. She and other True Cost of Chevron Network members were there to share their stories of human rights and environmental abuses due to Chevron’s operations.
The other four arrestees from the network, Juan Parras of Houston, TX; Reverend Ken Davis of Richmond, CA; and Mitch Anderson and Han Shan of San Francisco, CA, were released early this morning at 3:30 am CDT. They were arrested after being barred from the meeting.
“As a Houstonian, I am proud to be part of this global network. Chevron cannot silence the truth about its operations in Houston or anywhere else,” stated Parras.

# # #

On May 25th, an unprecedented global network of Chevron-affect communities released “True Cost of Chevron: An Alternative Annual Report” to the press and to address the true cost of Chevron’s operations in their communities.

(Cross posted from Amazon Watch’s Campaign for Justice in Ecuador)

Representing diverse communities around the world that have come together to challenge the impact of oil giant Chevron’s operations on their lives, the ‘True Cost of Chevron‘ coalition is unprecedented.

This morning, several dozen people – from Angola, Burma, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, and several communities across the U.S. – gathered together to briefly plan our press conference on the day before Chevron’s annual shareholders meeting. The room was buzzing with organizers, community leaders, and people with powerful stories of devastation, as well as resistance, against one of the largest companies in the world.

Soon, we headed downtown to Chevron’s Houston headquarters, a tall, gleaming glass building in an urban area eerily devoid of foot traffic. A local told me that with the sweltering heat, many people choose to use underground, air-conditioned tunnels to move from parking lot to building and between buildings.

(Read the rest on the Campaign for Justine in Ecuador site)

Additional resources:

Rainforest Action Network’s photo slideshow of the True Cost of Chevron Press Conference.

From Amazon Watch: Video of Guillermo Grefa, Indigenous Kichwa leader from the Rumipamba community, speaking at the True Cost of Chevron press conference!