There has been no greater challenge to the life, territory, culture and very existence of Fourth World peoples than that presented by the greed and impunity of unregulated resource extracting corporations. Royal Dutch Shell Oil corporation negotiated an out of court settlement of a 15 year lawsuit initiated by the New York City-based Centre for Constitutional Rights on behalf of ten relatives of Ogoni leaders tortured and executed in a dispute over environmental damages to Ogoni people and lands. The $15 million settlement is being lauded by the Centre for Constitituional Rights as a major victory for human rights and corporate punishment.
I am afraid I join with many Ogoni who believe that Shell and other oil companies in the Delta Region of southern Nigeria are engaged in criminal activities sanctioned by the Nigerian government, and the out of court settlement will have little or no effect on corporate behavior. Ogoni have been killed, Ijaw have been killed, Igbo have been killed and all are still being killed by the poisons spewed from broken pipelines, mismanaged oil and gas operations and otherwise lawless corporate oil extraction operations in Nigeria. Billions of dollars worth of oil and gas are being extracted for the benefit of corrupt Nigerian officials and gas guzzling developed countries. The punishing poisons continue and $15 million will not prevent the continuation of corporate violence.
In Ecuador native peoples are battling oil companies and government police to prevent distruction of their jungle territories and the health of thousands. In Peru’s Amazonia President Garcia’s government is joining with corporations to literally kill native people (begining on 5 June as many as 40 Indians have been killed) as they protested oil extraction companies operating in their territories as a result of an agreement between Peru and the United States. In the south eastern part of Papua New Guinea a massive mineral extraction mine is dumping tailings and other poisons into streams and on the land while native peoples’ lives are at stake.
Corporate violence continues with the help of states’ governments killing Fourth World peoples and one out-of-court settlement will not prevent continued killing. Corporate officers and Chief Exectuive Officers must be held liable personally for the killing, environmental damage and the broad distruction of life .. in the same manner as any other criminal operation. Money is not the solution. Prosecution and personal punishment is.
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