Chevron's spill has killed thousands already.
There’s a rumble in the jungle, folks.  It’s a David and Goliath battle, and it’s the subject of Joe Berlinger’s excellent new documentary Crude: The Real Price of Oil.  If you’ve ever been a little angry knowing you’re getting screwed at the pump, while oil companies boast record profits, year after year, this movie will let you see what it really means to get screwed by Big Oil.  If you don’t know enough to even be pissed off about it all, just google, ‘Record Profits.’  You don’t even have to type in the word ‘Oil,’ because the first hits go directly to stories about the oil industry’s big profit bonanza.  In May of 2009, Chevron’s annual report boasted record profits for the fourth consecutive year, with ‘profits of $18.7 billion’, just as crude oil prices climbed to their highest levels in 26 years.  But don’t let me bore you with all the numbers, people.  There’s a story in this movie that’s much more fascinating than Chevron’s amazing ability to screw us all at the pump.  Crude is more about Chevron’s costly efforts to screw people out of their basic human rights, in the most criminal way possible.  If a Documentary is not your idea of an action packed summer flick, keep in mind that Crude offers a treacherous villain, a large number of innocent victims, mass disease, and even murder.

Guess who owns Texaco?  Chevron!!

 But here’s the kicker: This story isn’t make-believe.  How’s that for a twist?  Granted, there are subtitles, and the pace is a little slow at times, but I challenge you action fans out there to find a fictional villain as scary as the real ones on display in this film. Just imagine a landmark court battle between Chevron and the indigenous people of Ecuador, fought over oil drenched jungle soil, where thousands of people and animals have died, thanks to what’s been referred to as the ‘Amazonian Chernobyl.’  Think big and dirty.  Big as in a spill roughly the size of Rhode Island, and dirty as in ten times worse than the Exxon Valdez disaster.  That’s what this fight is all about.  Fighting in the green corner, coming in at a significant size, and financial disadvantage is our lovable underdog, Pablo Fajardo.  Fajardo is an Ecuadorian lawyer living in a two-room shack, still battling on behalf of the disadvantaged people of his country, even after thirteen years without a ruling from the courts.  During those first few years, Pablo's brother was murdered when the bad guys hired to kill Pablo got all mixed up, and tortured the wrong guy to death.  Hmm... I wonder who might want Pablo dead?  Fighting against Mr. Fajardo, in the dark and slimy corner, is Chevron, with their endless scare tactics, resources, and spin campaigns, hiding behind their army of lawyers. 

Pablo Fajardo talks into the cameras.

It’s pretty disturbing to watch all the well-paid Chevron representatives speak on behalf of the company in this movie.  These people don’t bat an eye.  Even when they’re exposed to the laundry list of human rights violations their company is responsible for, even when the evidence is completely obvious, these people still find a way to put the money where their mouthes should be.  What’s maybe the most disturbing thing about Crude though, is the fact that Berlinger worked on this film for three years, and there’s still been no verdict in the case, thanks in large part to the company’s efforts to stall proceedings at every turn.  Tack those last three years on to the thirteen that Pablo and his friends have been fighting against Chevron, and you’ve got a total of sixteen years.  Which begs the question: How many angry, dying, indigenous Ecuadorians does it take to prove that Chevron should clean up the enormous toxic mess they made?  How many skin rashes, cancer cases, stomach infections, and dead relatives do these people have to suffer through to get a little justice?  Well, watch the movie, decide for yourself, and get back to me.  I’ll be stringing together every red cent I’ve got so I can afford another gallon of gas, but rest assured, I won’t be buying that shit from Chevron.

AuthorDoug McBride