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Crude (DVD Reviews)

13 Feb, 2010 By: Angelique Flores


Street 2/23/10
First Run
Box Office $0.2 million
$24.95 DVD
Not rated.

For more than a decade, the people of Ecuador have been battling a class-action lawsuit against Chevron over what some say is the world’s worst oil-related environmental disaster.

Unlike a lot of documentaries, Crude gives a compelling voice to both sides of the controversial legal case, unraveling the complicated layers of the unsettling tragedy.

At the heart of the matter is an indigenous community in the Ecuadorian Amazon, where Texaco arrived in the 1960s and spent decades drilling for oil. Locals blame the rise in illnesses and deaths on the toxic waste the oil company left behind.

After leaving Ecuador in 1992, Texaco handed the operation to Petroecuador, the state-run oil company. The following year, 30,000 Ecuadorians filed a class-action lawsuit against Texaco in a U.S. court. Chevron eventually inherited the suit when it merged with Texaco in 2001.

The impoverished Ecuadorian community wants their jungle to be cleaned up and restored. Ecuadorian attorney Pablo Fajardo and community leader Luis Lanza lead the legal team for the plaintiffs, who are supported by Amazon Watch, a human rights and environmental organization, and by a powerful U.S. law firm.

Chevron argues the plaintiffs are just looking for money from Chevron for the Amazon Defense Front and the lawyers, and faults the impoverished conditions for the area’s illnesses. Chevron also asks why Petroecuador and the Ecuadorian government, who approved the company to come in, aren’t also being prosecuted.

This film shows the manipulation of the attorneys and a government that doesn’t seem to be doing enough for its own people.

What makes it worse is that this sticky legal battle isn’t even close to being over.

Sadly, it seems whichever side you’re on, the Ecuadorian people remain victims. The only ones who have provided any relief are Trudie Styler and her husband, Sting, who through their Rainforest Foundation have teamed with UNICEF and the Amazon Defense Front to provide filtered drinking water to the region.

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