The legal secretary to President Lenin Moreno is accusing former president Rafael Correa of harming the national interest by spending taxpayer money to mount a public relations campaign against Chevron Oil. According to Eduardo Jurado, the Correa administration spent $10 million on the effort, much of it going to international celebrities to travel go Ecuador and voice their support for Amazonian villagers in their $9 billion suit against the oil company.
Jurado is asking the attorney general’s office to investigate the legality of the public relations campaign titled “The dirty hand of Chevron.” He claims that the paid publicity puts Ecuador in legal and financial jeopardy in the case. Chevron is suing the government of Ecuador in international court for violating a bilateral investment treaty with the U.S.
A central image of the former government’s PR campaign, publicized around the world, pictured Correa and two U.S. movie stars holding up oily hands, allegedly showing pollution left behind by Texaco Oil, now owned by Chevron.
“I am asking the attorney general to take action to punish former officials who caused damage to the country based on this actions,” Jurado said.
According to Jurado, the government paid large sums of money to celebrities, including Mia Farrow, Alexandra Cousteau, Danny Glover, Amba Jackson, Rigoberta Menchú, and Luis Eduardo Aute to attack Chevron and support the villagers who claimed the pollution poisoned their water and caused disease.
Following Jurado’s comments, the government press office issued a statement, claiming: “The regime of Rafael Correa used the Chevron Oil case to gain media and political prominence and used public funds for propaganda. The ‘The dirty hand of Chevron’ campaign was used to manipulate national and international public opinion without regard for the truth.”