Every once in a while, somebody stands up. Whether it is the individuals on the front lines at OWS, or citizens fighting for justice, or wikileaks revealing government secrets, or women refusing to be denigrated by a corporate mouthpiece and hate-radio jock, it’s an empowering move for each of us.
This time it’s an actual government standing up to big oil. Brazil has barred oil executives from leaving their country and is charging them with environmental crimes.
From the BBC
Brazilian prosecutors say they will bring criminal charges against 17 executives from the US oil company Chevron and drilling contractor Transocean after a new leak of crude.
The executives have been barred from leaving the country and have been required to turn in their passports. Predictably, Chevron calls the charges “outrageous!”
The executives will most likely be indicted for environmental crimes tied to a November leak of as many as 3,000 barrels of oil at Chevron’s Frade field off Rio de Janeiro.
Yes, you read that amount of oil correctly – three thousand barrels. BP says they dumped 4.9 million barrels. (And that figure of 4.9 million barrels was their estimate, doubtless it was far, far, higher.)
Compare this to the subservient behavior of the United States. We saw who really wielded the power in the United States when BP decimated our Gulf of Mexico. A multi-national corporation dumped 4.9 million barrels of oil into our gulf, destroying countless animals, many rare and endangered, and devastating family fishing businesses all around the gulf.
No one went to jail.
Not one executive was held accountable.
If you or I had been caught dumping toxins into a water supply, what would have happened?
Do you remember when BP then began dumping an untold flood of toxic dispersant into the water, to disperse the oil and thus leave less oil evidence to be used to fine or sue them? The EPA weakly whimpered, “Um, that’s toxic. Please stop”. And BP thundered back, “Tough. We’re doing it. Check your rules which were neutralized by the Bush Administration. There’s nothing you can do.”
The EPA backed down and shut up. Of course, with the revolving door between corporate pillagers and government “regulators”, the dis empowerment of the government is a predictable outcome.
Once again, the U.S. government failed to do its job in protecting the people, lands, and oceans of this United States from a predatory multinational corporation – and we will all be paying the price for generations. Countless fish, dolphins, whales, birds, and sea turtles paid with their lives. Countless more continue to suffer and die as I write this. And people who live near the water are coming down with a variety of illnesses attributed to the toxic brew that was once our beautiful Gulf of Mexico.
Adding insult to injury, BP hired Blackwater mercenary thugs to keep press away and stop citizens from seeing what was happening – and local police worked together with the mercenaries. Witnesses said they shipped in prisoners to clean an area of beach before President Obama arrived, took photographs, and stopped cleaning immediately after he left.
And the gulf is still poisoning wildlife and people.
Oh, and BP has been allowed to return to drilling in the gulf, business as usual.
This is just one illustration of why we need an actual democracy with a government that is responsive to the citizenry. Everyone knows that in the US today, money rules, and that the wealthiest among us control our very government. This is why the banks were deregulated and allowed to crash the world economy to line a few pockets – with no consequences. This is why our lands, air and waters are polluted – with no consequences.
This is why compliant ignoramuses and corporate shills are placed into office. Republican lobbyist Grover Norquist openly bragged that the GOP only needs someone capable of holding a pen. The wealthy just need a lackey.
And when anyone tries to lift a tiny finger to even propose regulating corporations, the right wing echo chamber begins screaming “socialist” and “communist”! (If only Obama were as liberal as they say he is. In my opinion, President Obama is, like Clinton before him, basically an old school republican – you know, before they went crazy with the Dominionism, Racism, and Fascist Corporatism.)
What we need is a new, genuine democracy. This is what the Occupy movement is demonstrating for us. Those messy, long general assemblies are what democracy looks like. The lack of a hierarchy and official “spokespeople” is democracy in action. I believe that we can’t really conceive of what a truly healthy government looks like – but in this instance, Brazil gives us a clue of one small part of good government: holding predators accountable.
Let’s hope this catches on!
- Chevron Becomes The BP Of Brazil (forbes.com)
- Charges laid against Chevron and Transocean over Brazil oil spill (business.financialpost.com)
- Chevron Calls Brazil Oilspill Lawsuit “Outrageous” (forbes.com)