Ecuadorian community leader and the recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize
"I met Steven Donziger in 1993 on the first of what would be more than 200 trips from his home in the United States to the Amazon region of Ecuador. It was clear on that first trip that Steven was uncompromising in his dedication to the cause of human rights. In the ensuing years he has contributed his time, energy, and legal skills to supporting those of us who have been victimized by the petroleum industry in Ecuador, in particular to those who have been victimized by Chevron’s toxic dumping and disrespect for human life. Steven is deeply sensitized to the suffering of our people. He is beloved by communities throughout the region who have watched his unrelenting efforts to pour energy and resources into the campaign of the affected indigenous and farmer communities for a remediation of the environmental disaster. His sense of humor and historical perspective makes working with him easy, even with the tragedy with which we suffer every day. It takes time for most Ecuadorians to trust any citizen of the United States given our experience with the arrogant oil workers who polluted our lands and waterways. Steven is one of those rare Americans who gives instead of takes. He has opened our eyes to new ways of thinking about transnational and cross-cultural collaboration to achieve social justice. We never before understood just how much the law could be leveraged on behalf of the powerless instead of just the powerful. Steven lives in solidarity with our communities, and we with him as he battles Chevron’s desperate attempts to attack the leaders of this campaign. Steven has put himself at the service of the affected peoples for more than two decades. Much justice has been achieved in this effort, with much more to come."
Paul Paz y Miño
Associate Director, Amazon Watch
"Defending human rights and the environment is a risky endeavor anywhere in the world. For more than two decades Steven Donziger has taken on one of the largest and most important fights for corporate accountability in history, and he is the person who played a critical role in successfully winning a historic civil court judgment against Chevron on behalf of indigenous and rainforest communities. His ability to persevere and stare down one of the most vicious corporate attacks in history is nothing short of astounding and serves as an inspiration to untold numbers of people around the world. Chevron has spent millions of dollars to fabricate evidence and do all it can to try to destroy Steven’s reputation precisely because he has been so tenacious and successful in holding the company to account. There are very few people who possess Steven’s strategic sense, dogged determination, and courage.
More broadly, Steven’s work is vital for the cause of environmental justice, human rights and the environment. Chevron has tried every dirty trick in the book to make others fear to do what Steven Donziger has done - stand up to corporate power with utter fearlessness. The consequences of Steven's efforts in the Chevron case stretch well beyond that one issue, as important as it may be."
Trial Lawyer, Seattle
Former President, Inner Circle of Advocates
"According to Chevron, Steven Donziger is probably the world’s most dangerous man. He came up with a legal and economic model for holding multinational polluters accountable for the harm they cause to the earth and its inhabitants. Internal Chevron documents openly talk of wanting to destroy him.
At great personal risk and cost, Steven faced down the most powerful interests on the globe. He was attacked constantly by Chevron during the course of a multi-million dollar investigation and litigation. As one of Steven’s lawyers, I was able to review in detail the results of that investigation. It showed a fearless and committed advocate who never wavered in his commitment to see that justice was done. It also showed a man of integrity, fighting brilliantly against unimaginable odds."
President, Association of People Impacted by Texaco,
"I have been involved in the struggle of the affected communities in Ecuador against Texaco and Chevron for over twenty years. From the very beginning of the judicial process regarding Texaco’s crimes, I had the good luck to get to know lawyer Steven Donziger with whom I shared the hardest moments, all of the suffering, but also the many satisfactions that our campaign has created across the years. Because of this, I consider Steven a fellow member of our movement. He is also a friend and a professional who has supported us with his advice on legal matters. Lawyer Steven enjoys my confidence and also that of the people I represent; because of this, I can confirm that any persecution he suffers from Chevron’s attacks will be responded to firmly by the communities. We will never leave alone a friend who has demonstrated his tireless commitment to protecting the rights of the people of our communities."
Professor Heather Williams
Chair, Politics Department, Pomona College
"Steven Donziger graciously accepted an invitation to speak at Pomona College and to address my seminar on global water politics in December 2016. In one of the most powerful sessions I've seen in 20 years, he talked candidly about what it means for victims of toxic dumping and their legal team to take on a giant oil corporation for its negligent practices. It's no secret that Steven has been demonized by Chevron and the business press; this was our opportunity to hear his own account of the case and for my class to do a close reading of some of the primary material connected to the case. Without sugar-coating his own experience, and making it clear how tough it is to challenge a company with virtually unlimited legal resources and tremendous political power, Donziger made a compelling case to students that the law can and should be made to work for the public good. Donziger's visit was a ray of light in an age of cynicism and fear. I and my students came away from the talk believing that Chevron should be accountable for its mess in the Amazon."
Media spokesperson, Ecuadorian villagers
"I’ve worked closely with Steven Donziger for ten years. I can state unequivocally that Steven’s work in the Ecuadorian rainforest has given voice to indigenous peoples who for decades had no power to fight back against the contamination of their land by oil companies. I’ve traveled with him to the jungle and seen the devastation firsthand. I’ve seen him interact with his clients with great sensitivity and passion. Steven’s intelligence, perseverance and commitment to social change are almost without parallel. You want him on your side because nobody fights harder for justice and nobody is more determined to see a tough case through to the end."
Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, UC Davis
Author, Crude Chronicles: Indigenous Politics, Multinational Oil, and Neoliberalism in Ecuador
"Steven’s unrelenting work to bring the Chevron Corporation to justice for systematic environmental contamination is nothing short of phenomenal. For nearly twenty-five years, his passionate commitment has driven him to launch and prevail in a precedent-setting lawsuit that has the oil industry deeply worried. Crossing two continents and two legal systems, Steven (together with a small legal team) carved out new legal arguments and strategies for demanding corporate responsibility for the contaminating effects of their operations. Remarkably, Chevron scorched-earth legal campaign of vilification has strengthened, not diminished, Steven’s commitment to environmental accountability globally. Steven not only knows, he has experienced for over two decades, the severely compromised circumstances in which the plaintiffs in his legal battle live. The disparity between the plaintiffs’ harsh ecological reality and that which Chevron professes to uphold as it values is vast. This heart-stopping discrepancy is precisely what has propelled Steven’s unflinching determination to bring Chevron to account and made him into a remarkable environmental justice lawyer.
Aaron Marr Page, Founder and Director, ForumNobis, Washington, D.C.
Attorney for Ecuadorian Rainforest Communities in Chevron case
"Chevron gave the world its own estimate of the value of Steven Donziger’s truth when it targeted him with what it explicitly called a “long-term demonization” campaign at a cost heretofore unseen in our history. The core of Donziger’s truth is that a U.S. oil company chose to use sub-standard practices working in the Ecuadorian rainforest, created an environmental maelstrom of death and destruction in an isolated part of the world that has lasted for 50 years. The nightmare for Chevron is that it cannot escape this fundamental fact, because year after year Donziger keeps rallying his clients and bringing their story to Chevron’s door—as well as to the U.S. and international media and to courts around the world.
Donziger’s tenacity is legendary. Less known, but equally inspiring, are his deep personal connections with his indigenous and farmer clients in the rainforest cultivated over two decades and through more than 250 trips. When he goes on his regular two and three-day excursions to the affected communities in the Amazon – twelve-hour days bouncing from community center to community center on a jam-packed, broiling-hot mini-bus – he is smothered in hugs and handshakes, stories and updates from people on how their lives are going, who they have recently lost to cancer, as well as their marriages, weddings, triumphs and heartbreaks. When Rosa Moreno, a nurse who was a pillar of the impoverished local health care system and who cared for legions of Chevron’s cancer victims over the years, herself succumbed to cancer, Donziger sprang into action. He spent countless hours getting the word out to allied NGOs, issuing press releases, calling Moreno’s family, and organizing local and international events in Moreno’s honor.
Chevron has desperately tried to re-frame Donziger’s work as that of an “ambulance chaser.” Actually, it is the work of a passionate human rights advocate who understands that our existing systems of law are so conflicted when it comes to liability claims against powerful economic actors like Chevron that true relief will only come on a rising tide of public outrage. Outrage and insubordination against the insidious double standards that allow powerful companies like Chevron to choose substandard practices in the first place, and that today allow it announce that it will refuse to pay a final judgment affirmed by Ecuador’s Supreme Court.
Chevron has now invested well over $1 billion in trying to suppress Donziger’s truth and the consequences that it might entail. That price tag alone should catch our attention. It does not cost that kind of money to suppress weak ideas."
"Steven is a rare and extraordinary example of those brave enough to very seriously stand up against Big Oil. Steven has made huge sacrifices that most wouldn’t even dare themselves imagine to ensure clean-up of what is hands-down one of the largest environmental and human rights disasters to ever plague our planet. Most unfortunately, where we would expect to see more solidarity with Steven, there too often has been silence, as human rights advocates fear becoming victimized, too. As an academic who has worked in Ecuador’s Amazon, there are times I have considered giving up and shutting up. I have been unable to release myself from the ethical responsibility to continue on, however, knowing that Steven and so many other human rights defenders refuse to bow down to the dictum that some people’s lives are more valuable than others."
Journalist and PhD Candidate in Anthropology, Princeton
Research Scholar in Law and Staff Attorney, Collaboration for Research Integrity and Transparency at Yale Law School.
"Steven's trailblazing work in the human rights arena is nothing short of awe inspiring. His quest to bring Chevron to justice for its intentional and devastating pollution in the Amazon resulted in the largest-ever monetary award in an environmental case. His persistence in the face of a scorched earth legal tactics and personal persecution is a testimony to his bravery and commitment to social change. He is a true visionary and when future generations of lawyers look back on the human rights and environmental justice movements, he will be remembered as a true pioneer."