Ecuador seeks UNASUR agency to monitor transnational corporations; says they ‘attack’ national interests

Sep 9, 2014

Ecuadorian minister of foreign affairs, Ricardo Patiño, announced Monday that Ecuador will work towards the creation of an Observatory of Transnational Companies. To be developed with other countries of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the proposal will be discussed in the Second Conference of the Ministries of States Affected by Transnational Interests in Caracas, Venezuela this Wednesday.

Patiño stressed that the meeting has the aim of analyzing the effects of transnationals and defending against those “that are mistaken to think that their capital can come before people.”

In an interview Monday with state television channel Ecuador TV, Patiño said an agreement may be reached at the meeting Wednesday. Participation in the Observatory would not be limited to the 12 UNASUR member states, but would be extended to those African, Caribbean and Central American countries seeking entry.

Patiño said that the central purpose behind the creation of the Observatory is to show transnationals that their activities are being monitored. He mentioned the case of Chevron-Texaco, who during operations from 1964 to 1990, dumped over 18 billion gallons of toxic waste water and about 17 million gallons of crude oil in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Open pits remain as a reminder of the company's damage, which is considered one of the worst environmental disasters in history, and has resulted in lasting health issues for people from the region. Despite being found guilty by Ecuadorian courts and forced to pay USD $9.5 billion, Chevron refuses to pay, and the lawsuit continues.

The Observatory would allow countries to obtain and share information about transnational companies operating in their respective countries. Patiño said it would allow the sharing of information as to how transnationals “have attacked our countries,” and how they have worked “illegally with Bilateral Investment Treaties.”

To this end, Patiño said that there will be lawyers monitoring the Observatory and the process of investigation.

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To be discussed at the UNASUR meeting to be held in Caracas, the day before the inauguration of former Colombian President Ernesto Samper as Secretary General of the regional organization, the Observatory was an initiative proposed by Ecuador in 2013.

Credit: TeleSur, http://www.telesurtv.net; Photo caption: Ecuadorian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ricardo Patiño

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