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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  March 20, 2015 8:00am-9:01am PDT

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03/20/15 03/20/15 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> are not preparing a military invasion. we are not seeking to destabilize or topple a the maduro . amy: as the united states declares venezuela to be an extraordinary threat to national security latin american nations call on washington to stop meddling in its affairs.
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we will speak to ecuadorian foreign minister ricardo patiño. >> president obama's administration is living in the past. it is time to make plans based on respect for our sovereign nation and our rights of determination. amy: then outrage grows over new jersey governor chris christie's decision to settle an $8.9 billion toxic contamination claim against exxon for less than 3 cents on the dollar. new jersey's state has urged a judge to reject the settlement. and we will remember the pioneering independent journalist and filmmaker danny schechter. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. newly re-elected israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu has
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tried to walk back his pre-election vow not to allow a palestinian state. netanyahu had emphasized his right-wing positions in the lead-up to the election, urging supporters to cancel out the votes of arabs he said were heading to the polls in droves. a day before the election, when asked if he was ruling out establishment of a palestinian state under his tenure netanyahu replied, "indeed." but he tried to backtrack in an interview with nbc's andrea mitchell. >> i haven't changed my policy. i never retracted my speech six years ago, calling for a demilitarized palestinian state that recognizes the jewish state. what has changed is the reality. the palestinian leader refuses to recognize the jewish state and has made a pact with hamas the calls for the destruction of the jewish state. and every territory that is bacon in the middle east today is taken up by islamist forces us -- taken up in the middle east today by islamist forces.
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i don't want a one state solution. i want sustainable, peaceful two state solution. for that circumstances have to change. amy: the white house has said it will evaluate its path forward after netanyahu's pre-election dismissal of the two-state solution. president obama called netanyahu to congratulate him thursday two days after the election. the self-described islamic state has claimed responsibility for the mass shooting at the bardo museum in tunisia which killed 21 people. in an audio recording circulated online, isil says two of its gunmen carried out the attack. tunisians rallied outside the museum to denounce the attack. most of the victims were foreign tourists. the united nations has accused the self-proclaimed islamic state of a possible genocide against iraq's yazidi minority. chief u.n. investigator suki nagra said all communities have been impacted. >> no community has been spared
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in iraq from the violence by isil. essentially, what we're seeing is the rich ethnic and religious diversity in iraq that has been shattered. amy: the report also gone u.s. backed iraqi forces "may have committed some war crimes" while battling isil militants. the pentagon says the u.s. military has conducted over 2300 airstrikes against islamic state militants since august, at a cost of $1.83 billion. obama has acknowledged the islamic state developed as a direct consequence of the 2003 u.s. invasion of iraq. thursday was the 12 anniversary of the iraq invasion. these activists in upstate new
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york marked the anniversary by using giant books to block the gates of hancock air base, where overseas drones are remotely piloted. in an action dubbed, "educating the base," the activists shut off the base's main gate using 8-foot replicas of books including "dirty wars" by jeremy scahill, and the u.n. charter. seven people were arrested. the obama administration is poised to keep more u.s. troops in afghanistan. "the new york times" reports while obama had touted plans to roughly halve the number of u.s. troops from its current level of 10,000 by the end of this year officials are now considering keeping most of those troops in place. reuters reports u.s. military bases in kandahar and jalalabad will likely remain open beyond this year. japanese authorities have arrested a man accused of threatening to bomb the u.s. embassy and a military base. the man was detained on the
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island of okinawa, which houses about 26,000 u.s. troops. for decades, residents there have protested the presence of the soldiers, citing environmental concerns and sexual assaults. surveillance video showing two secret service agents allegedly drunk driving into an active bomb investigation at the white house has been erased. secret service director joseph clancy told lawmakers the agency automatically records over surveillance video every three days. but he said the video footage that does exist shows the incident was less serious than media reports have described. >> personally reviewed vitis surveillance from the evening of march 4, and i welcome the opportunity to review this footage with each of you. based on the footage, previous reports of a crash are inaccurate. there was no crash. the video shows a vehicle entering the white house complex
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at a speed of approximately one to two miles per hour and pushing aside a plastic errol. there was no damage to the vehicle. amy: students at the university of virginia are protesting the arrest of an african-american classmate shown bleeding profusely from the head after being slammed to the ground by state alcohol agents. martese johnson needed 10 stitches in his head. he was charged with obstruction of justice without force and public swearing or intoxication. bryan beaubrun, who took the now-viral photo of johnson bleeding on the ground, said the agents pulled him aside after he was denied entry to a bar. after he tried to pull his arm away, they wrestled him down. state police have launched a probe at the request of virginia governor terry mcauliffe and uva president teresa sullivan, who said she was "disturbed" by video of the arrest. johnson's attorney, daniel watkins, read a statement from his client. >> i'm shocked my face was
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slammed into the brick hagemann just across the street from where i attend school. three officers then pinned me to the ground pushing their knees in my back while blood flowed freely from the gash to my head. as the officers help me down, [indiscernible] how could this happen? my head lay bloodied. amy: last year, virginia agreed to pay over $200,000 in a lawsuit brought by another uva student, who was arrested after state alcohol agents mistook the sparkling water she had purchased for beer. elizabeth daly called 911 and attempted to drive away in terror after the agents swarmed her car and pulled a gun. she pulled over after a 911 dispatcher confirmed the men were agents. daly was charged with eluding police and assaulting an officer, but the charges were later dropped. a judge in staten island, new york has refused to release testimony heard by the grand
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jury that failed to indict officer daniel pantaelo for the chokehold death of unarmed african-american eric garner. the new york civil liberties union, along with public advocate letitia james, the new york post and naacp had joined together to request the documents. but state supreme court justice said that not shown a compelling need for the release. nyclu executive director donna lieberman said in a statement -- "the failure to indict the officer responsible for the death of eric garner has left many wondering if black lives even matter. sadly, today's decision will only leave many asking that same question again." in mississippi the fbi is investigating the death of an african-american man found hanging from a tree. otis byrd had been missing for over a week when he was found dead in a wooded area. the mississippi naacp has called for a probe to determine whether
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his death was a hate crime. the news came as a team of experts from syracuse university told a u.n. panel in geneva the united states has failed to adequately address the lynchings of african americans in the civil rights era, with over 300 suspicious killings still unrecognized by the fbi. a u.s. border patrol agent has shot and killed a man suspected of crossing into the u.s. from canada illegally. according to local reports, the agent opened fire after he was attacked with pepper spray. a top chicago police commander has resigned following reports of abusive methods at the secretive homan square compound. the guardian revealed people taken to the nondescript warehouse had been denied access to attorneys, beaten and held incommunicado without notification to their families . the guardian, nicholas roti, chief of the bureau of organized crime, which operates out of homan, resigned from the police
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department last week. attorneys for three people held at homan have announced they will file a civil rights lawsuit in a bid to shut the facility down. university of california president and former secretary of homeland security janet napolitano has apologized for referring to students protesting tuition hikes as "crap." as students disrupted wednesday's uc regents meeting to protest the hikes, napolitano was caught on an open mic saying, "let's go. we don't have to listen to this crap." she later apologized for "using a word i don't usually use." the company behind the proposed keystone xl oil pipeline is under investigation by regulators in canada for possible safety violations after a complaint from a whistleblower. reuters reports transcanada is facing up to a dozen allegations, including reports it took several months to repair a pipeline damaged by a construction crew, and made sloppy repairs to a major gas pipeline damaged by an explosion. transgender new yorkers can now
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receive coverage for transition-related healthcare under medicaid. the administration of governor andrew cuomo has officially adopted a new regulation ending the 17-year-old ban on transgender healthcare after a long campaign by activists. and the author, filmmaker, and media reform activist danny schechter, the news dissector, has died at the age of 72. schechter rose to prominence as the "the news dissector" on boston's wbcn radio in the 1970's. he went on to work as a television producer at abc's "20/20," where he won two emmy awards, and at the newly launched cnn. but he left the corporate media to become executive director of mediachannel.org and co-founder and executive director of globalvision production company and author of twelve books including, "the more you watch the less you know." he was also a leading activist against apartheid in south africa and made six non-fiction films about nelson mandela. danny schechter appeared on democracy now! multiple times,
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most recently in 2013, after mandela's death, when he reflected on his own activism as part of a project called, "sun city: artists against apartheid." >> this was not all about lobbying congress. this was about informing america about what was happening and in some cases, it was cultural figures. 58 of the world's top artists who indicted system of forced relocation and south africa. that is what sun city was all about. it was part of an effort to promote a cultural boycott alongside an economic boycott. and it was very successful and worldwide in its impact. i think that was important. i helped start the tv series " south africa now" that ran for 156 weeks every week in the united states, reporting on south africa through the eyes of south africans. it was their story. amy: danny schechter died in new york city after a battle with pancreatic cancer. he was 72.
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and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now! democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. juan: welcome to all our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. the obama administration is facing criticism across south america for leveling new sanctions against venezuela and declaring the country to be an "unusual and extraordinary threat to national security." on saturday, foreign ministers of the twelve-country union of south american nations called for a revocation of the sanctions. in a statement the ministers said, "it constitutes an interventionist threat to sovereignty and the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries." on thursday, u.s. policy in venezuela was also questioned during a meeting of the organization of american states in washington. representatives from mexico, brazil, colombia, argentina, and other nations all criticized the u.s. approach. according to a report by
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telesur, breno dias da costa brazil's o.a.s. representative, said -- "venezuelan issues should be resolved by the venezuelan people without sanctions." jose miguel insulza of chile is secretary general of the organization of american states. >> we all recognize the right of venezuela, its people, its government its government, it's political parties, social organizations to resolve its problems in crisis without inside -- outside interference. amy: michael fitzpatrick, the interim u.s. permanent representative to the organization of the american states, denied the obama administration was planning to stage another coup in venezuela. >> we are not preparing a military invasion. we are not seeking to destabilize or topple the maduro government in a coup d'état. we're not participating in an international conspiracy to hurt
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the venezuelan economy or people. we are venezuela's largest trading partner. we simply want to prevent individual venezuelans who we believe have abuse the human rights of other venezuelans from traveling to the united states are parking their money in our financial system. amy: joining us here in new york is ecuadorian foreign minister ricardo patiño who took part in the organization of american states meeting yesterday. ecuador has offered to mediate between the united states and venezuela. ricardo patiño, welcome back to democracy now. it is great to have you with us. can you respond to the u.s. calling venezuela and extraordinary national security threat? >> it makes no sense whatsoever to think venezuela constitutes a
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threat to the united states. if there's a country that is a threat in the americas, it is the united states. because it has permanently invaded countries, societies and latin america. it has created coup d'états such as animal and -- panama. it doesn't have the most minimal possibility to constitute a threat to the united states, nor does it wish to be in that position. we have no desire a possibility to be a threat. what we want to do is live in peace. and to ask the united states to let latin america live in peace and democracy as is happening at this time. juan: can you tell us more about the offer of your government to mediate?
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>> it is really a request the government of venezuela has made that ecuador, and so far it is president pro tem, to coordinate with others to give impetus to dialogue with the united states in a decision adopted by the union of south american nations last saturday, which was a hard-hitting decision or clear decision by the 12 south african countries, we rejected the order by the u.s. government. we also called for a dialogue. we see the solution is not violence, the solution is to be found in dialogue. we want to make it perfectly clear that venezuela is not alone. as it is not a threat to the united states, ecuador is not a threat either, nor is brazil a threat. we ask the united states to
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respect the self-determination and sovereignty of the south american people. amy: the status state purpose spokesperson surprised many by climbing -- your response? >> it is just a question of briefly reviewing the history of what the united states foreign-policy has been. what happened with iraq? what happened with afghanistan in the case of iraq? there was a worldwide media show to show their were weapons of mass distraction. the bush administration at that time knew they did not exist. they killed thousands or hundreds of thousands of people.
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and it is all been left in absolute impunity. they declared iraq constituted a threat to the u.s., so after that, they invaded. that is why we are concerned about this definition. they say it is just a formality, but it is very serious for a country and for its president to say that another country constitutes a threat. it is very serious because then one has to see what the consequences of such a declaration will be. plus, when they say they don't promote coup d'états and violent actions against our country, all of the history of the 20th century shows the opposite. any time they have not liked a government, they have tried to figure out how to overthrow it and they have done it on many locations. we regret we cannot agree with these declarations. juan: at the same time the u.s. is being so aggressive toward venezuela, president obama announced recently the normalization of the beginning
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of normalization of relations with cuba. i am wondering your reaction to that and what the impact has been in latin america? >> we looked on this with great happiness. we consider this to be a triumph of the struggle and dignity of the people and government of cuba after putting up for more than 50 years of a totally illegal embargo that has had a negative impact on the lives of cubans for so long. we saw it as a new vision of the united states, a more respectful relationship with the region. but unfortunately, that happiness lasted just a few weeks because all of the sudden, there is an unnecessary conflict, which is [indiscernible] we hope the summit of the americas, in just a few days, april 10 and 11 in panel mock, was going to be, as i put it,
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the summit of happiness. the first time in the 20 years of the summits of the americas, that cuba was going to enter. it was going to no longer be excluded. we limit that just a few days before that summit, we have to put up with an aggression because it is, clearly, an aggression by the government of the u.s. against our sister republic of venezuela. we call and urge the government of the united states to work out problems in a friendly way through dialogue. and i would hope that before the summit, it will be possible to have the two governments, united states and venezuela, to engage in a dialogue such that the summit not reflect these issues of tension, but rather it should reflect the happiness because -- amy: what role does oil play, the way the u.s. deals with venezuela? >> well, there are some other
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countries which in recent times has been invaded as a result of having control of oil are because of the concern about controlling oil. we see this in iraq or libya. let's not forget there's information that is not always -- as widely disseminated as a could be. venezuela has the largest quantity of well reserves anywhere worldwide. unfortunately, this may be a reason for seeking to control that oil production of those will reserves on the part of certain interest of the united states. juan: i want to turn to the situation of julian assange. he has been residing in your country's embassy in london and recently swedish authorities offered to come to london to interview him.
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this is a significant development, given the amount of time he has spent basically in isolation in your embassy. your comment in your reaction to the latest announcement of the swedish authorities? >> we view favorably and we are pleased to see swedish prosecutors say they now want to take the statement from julian assange at our embassy. but at the same time, we are concerned that 1000 days have gone by. 1000 days with julian assange can find in our embassy before they say they're going to do what they should have done from day one. which was offered by the government of ecuador. we told the swedish authorities the swedish government, that we were open and willing to facilitate conditions so they could take a statement.
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that's the first action that swedish justice should have in order to respond to the complaint by two persons who have launched a complaint against chile in assange. the thing is, 4.5 years have elapsed since the complaint was lodged. two years where he had been electronic apparatus attached to them in london and then two more years in our embassy and now the prosecutor says she is going to take the statement because the statute of limitations might run out on the crime. the question is, why did they let summits time go by? and who was going to pay julian assange compensation for 1000 days of confinement? i reiterate, we are pleased with this decision. because it is recognition that they could have done it. the problem is, they will have to explain -- the swedish prosecutors will have to explain, to among others, why
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they did not do before. it is a violation of julian assange's human rights having him confined for 1000 days and then recognizing, yes, they should have done this earlier. amy: can you talk about the original decision that your country ecuador made to allow julian assange to stay in the msc him and to grant him political asylum -- in your embassy and to grant him political asylum? if you were to leave the embassy, would he be able to come to ecuador to live? >> yes, he could do that. we have said and we have accepted his request for silent for one fundamental reason. -- asylum for one final reason. he said he was the target of political persecution. we were able to verify that. that is why we were able to grant him asylum.
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because of this row fact of what was happening but also we have the right as a country to grant asylum because it is established in final human rights instruments -- all the international treaties, including asylum agreement that ecuador has as a latin america country. after we gave him sylum united kingdom to take them to our country -- to give him safe until he could travel to our country. once you pay offers the safe conduct, we will take joy massage to our country or whether he would like to go where he feels safe. amy: have you had any discussions with the united states? julian assange has repeatedly said his concern is not with sweden, that he would be willing to go to sweden, but he is never gotten assurances that sweden
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will not extradite him to the united states. and it is there he is concerned -- we just spoke with his lawyer michael ratner, who said there's an open investigation around wikileaks and charges of espionage and other such issues around the release of documents. >> well, when we were offering safe conduct or i should say rather asylum, before giving joy massage asylum, we consulted with the united states and we ask whether there were any investigations that have been opened. the answer was evasive. they simply told us that the matter regarding julian assange's request for asylum to ecuador was a matter that strictly has to do with your country.
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in other words, they did not give us an answer. but everybody knows it because this is public information, even though it is under seal, there is a proceeding that has been opened in the united states over julian assange. and considering how trials and investigations unfold in the united states against persons who are accused in particular in proceedings, in matters such of this, well, we would be concerned about the outcome of the investigation to julian assange. it was also clear that was clinical persecution, which is why we gave him asylum and why we maintain our position with respect to julian assange. we believe he is someone who is done great benefit to humankind in terms of revealing crimes that have occurred and that should not be kept hidden. this is the contribution he has made. i am not saying that we fully agree with everything that julian assange does. when you grant asylum, you don't turn the person into a saint.
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but we do think that the contribution in terms of the information that has been provided to the world has helped to open the eyes. plus, he wasn't the one who gave the information. it was communication media. in no proceeding has been pursued against them, just jillion assange, who they considered to be a dangerous man. amy: we're speaking with ricardo patiño, the foreign minister of ecuador, here in our new york studios. when we come back, we will talk to him about ecuador's case against chevrontexaco for what it has done in ecuador. we will be back in a moment. ♪ [music break]
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>> amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. our guest is ricardo patiño, the foreign minister of ecuador. juan: we want to turn to some issues within your country, talk about the chevron case. first, i want to ask you about the proposal of your government to make a constitutional amendment declaring the communications media a public service. there are some critics were claiming that is an attempt on the part of president correa seeking to muzzle press liberty freedom of the press. i'm wondering your reaction to the critics and why you felt you needed in the memo to the constitution, since you already have a law that pretty much says the same thing?
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>> well, the case of ecuador, we have had the experience of major monopolization of the media for a long time. six families own the media outlets in ecuador. they own television, print media, radio, and they have controlled medication. unfortunately, as well, biased medication, considerably. there brought together the interest of the media -- they have brought together the interest of the media, the bankers, and large companies. we believe citizens right to be adequately informed, that there be democracy immediate ownership is fundamental. we believe that communication should be considered a public service. it is not like selling ties or a
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cup or selling coffee. we're talking about other kinds of services and it should be considered. it is unfortunate or regrettable that after so much discussion of this in ecuador and after being proposed communication should be so considered, the reaction has always been negative. or is in the united states, it could be considered a public service -- well, some who think only in the united states is correct in terms of politics they have hushed up. it is unthinkable. we citizens have the right of freedom of expression. everyone, not just a few. but us citizens also have the right to receive accurate information that has been verified. and citizens, including politicians are members of the government, we also have the right to honor. all of these elements constitute the thinking in our government
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and some people try to criticize this. why? because what we do now, and this did not happen before, we respond to distortions or the omissions that many large television networks commit in ecuador. and that isn't fair. when they exercise their freedom of expression, we say they have the right. even if they live. it also have the right to refute those things that are said, and they don't like that. so they say in ecuador, we're limiting freedom of expression. the best way to solve this is if anyone has any doubt, we will invite them to go to ecuador for a day or two days, and many will have no doubt about it in terms of how there's full exercise of freedom of expression in our country. amy: thousands of people protested in the streets yesterday and at least 12 other cities. they were protesting against the government. there were holding signs that
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said things like, "we want democracy." demonstrators rallied in part to oppose constitutional changes that would allow indefinite reelection of the president and other officials. your response? >> the decision to reelect the citizen as president of the republic or as mayor or legislator is up to the people of ecuador. the people of ecuador can decide whether they think the president has done a good job. he can serve one term, two terms, that is the decision of the ecuador and people just as it is a decision in many countries of the world. in europe, sometimes the prime minister is there for 15 or 20 or 30 years during a time to people are willing to let them. in our country we have that right as well. unfortunately, there are some people who say, because they fear the impetus, the great
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impetus the citizen revolution has achieved and the great sympathy that people have for our president, which is based on the performance of a truly popular government, but it is also based on the validity of the elections happening. president correa has won three elections. he has not been put in by the military or the cia. no, it is in the people of ecuador voting for him. so we note that citizens have the right to vote or not vote for given citizen. if they don't like the work of president correa, they will vote for someone else. so what is the fear of the ecuadoran people having the right to reelect someone? to reelect the president or mayor or legislator as they please? juan: i want to ask about the chevron case. earlier this month, an arbitration panel in the hague ruled in favor of your government against chevron and
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one of the greatest calamities -- environmental calamities in modern times. even though a u.s. court ruled against you. i want your reaction and also if you could talk to people here who don't really know much about this disaster, what it has meant for your country. >> briefly, texaco was operating in ecuador for about 30 years. leaving an incredible ecological disaster. it wasn't an accident. one must distinguish this from the case of british petroleum that was an accident, and in many other cases -- a tanker that had an accident and oil was spilled. no here we are talking about 30 years of oil operations. now, having the adequate and sufficient techniques for processing the waste matter and
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impeding it from going directly into the rivers, regrettably, in the case of ecuador, texaco dumped the oil production waste directly into the rivers and the jungle. they devastated a huge area of the ecuadorian amazon. so i want to draw that distinction. it is not an accident. it is, regrettably, decision that was made so as to get texaco to have higher earnings just running -- destroying our amazon. if the waste have been processed, it would have cost them some, and they would not have burned more, but they would have predicted the amazon. that is what is at the origin of all of this. a few days ago, i think it was march 11, the court of arbitration at the hague took an important decision, which is in keeping with the positions put forth by the government of ecuador, which is to say the citizens who brought claim -- i
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want to make a clear vacation. the government of ecuador has not brought a claim against chevron texaco, it has been the citizens who have been impacted. those who saw their cows and even loved ones die, whose water sources have been destroyed. those persons are the plaintiffs in the case against chevrontexaco. now the tribunal has decided that that claim is a valid one. because chevron's argument is that the communities of the amazon didn't have a right to bring such a lawsuit because at some point, officials of the ecuadorian government gave a release to chevrontexaco from their responsibility as polluter. but that is something that was done by ecuadorian officials responsibly in 1998, that the citizens did not have to be impeded from bringing such a lawsuit and it is a very good step. it is very good news that now the tribunal at the hague has
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decided though citizens did have a right to bring such a lawsuit. there is not yet a final ruling because chevron has some other observations and claims against the ecuadorian state, but this first step is important because had they decided the citizens did not have a right to bring the lawsuit, then what we might expect afterwards would be an annulment of ecuador's case and this is an important first step. amy: what happens april 20? >> on april 20, the liberation begins by the tribunal with the participation of ecuador's attorneys and chevron's attorneys to continue addressing the matter. there are some other claims that chevron has against ecuador to prevent -- or so they not have to say on a judgment that is all
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ready been ratified by all the courts in ecuador. chevron and texaco has been ordered to pay $9.5 billion for the destruction caused by texaco in our country. and now they're bringing a counterclaim against ecuador trying not to pay for the waste the destruction. and now with their saying is if they are somehow forced to pay the judgment, that they should be indemnified by the state. in other words, ecuador and taxpayers should pay texaco chevron for the destruction caused. well, this is inadmissible. like the birds firing at the shotgun. we believe the soundness of our arguments will enable the tribunal to recognize the judgment handed down in ecuador
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is legitimate and the company chevrontexaco has an obligation to comply to, take not the ecuadorian state -- they haven't brought a claim -- but the citizens of the amazon, the residence of the amazon, for the destruction that they suffered. so we are awaiting a fair decision from the tribunal, and we have had to undertake a major communication from the ecuadoran state because the multimillion and ill intentioned campaign but by chevron against our state has been on a huge scale. and we've had work very hard to try to offset the campaign. amy: ricardo patiño, thank you for being with us, the foreign minister of ecuador. this is democracy now! democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. when we come back, we look at another oil company, another oil giant exxonmobil, and the deal.
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new jersey governor chris christie has made with them. and why so many people are protesting. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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amy: "wrecking ball" by bruce springsteen. this is democracy now! democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. juan: we turn now to a controversial settlement involving another oil giant closer to home. this week, state senators in new jersey voted to condemn a $225
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million settlement reportedly pushed through by the office of republican governor chris christie, which saved exxonmobil billions of dollars. new jersey quietly agreed to accept less than 3% of the $8.9 billion it had initially sought from exxon over pollution at two refinery sites. that amounts to just three cents on the dollar. on monday, lawmakers asked a judge to reject the deal calling it "grossly inappropriate, improper and inadequate." adding to outrage over the settlement, governor christie is already planning to use much of the money from the settlement to plug holes in the new jersey's budget, instead of for environmental restoration. amy: to give you an idea of the extent of the damage, the language of a 2008 ruling in the settlement called for a much more substantial damages award due to the environmental destruction exxonmobil has caused to the area around its refinery in bayonne, new jersey.
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then judge ross anzaldi wrote -- "it was estimated in 1977 that at least some seven million gallons of oil ranging in thickness from 7 to 17 feet, are contained in the soil and groundwater underlying a portion of the former bayonne site alone. the level of hydrocarbon contamination was so high one creek was covered with "a gelatinous, oily emulsion overlying grey silt." well, for more, we are joined by reporter bob hennelly. he is an award-winning investigative journalist who has long covered environment, law enforcement, national security policy. welcome. tell us about this deal. >> as the prime minister from ecuador was saying, they go back decades. in the case of these sites, they go back to before the turn-of-the-century. this is where oil first flexed its muscle. there was new jersey, three governors before governor christie have been making this case. it looked like they were going
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to win a big settlement. in 2008, they actually had a liability judgment on behalf of them against exxon which set the stage for what look to be at least $2.9 billion or more settlement. this is critical because what has happened is under the law these lands, these saltwater marshes, freshwater wetlands are actually owned by the public. it goes back to the magna carta. a concept that wildlife held by the state in trust for the public. when it into the degrades it, in many cases there have been fish advisories, people cannot consume fish from it, there's a consequence. and it has to be paid for by the entity and or has to be full resurrection -- restoration for the entire site. juan: governor chris christie says the settlement with exxonmobil is on top of what the oil giant will pay to cleanup contaminated sites in new jersey. >> you would think the 225
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milley dollars was all we got, right? wrong. $225 million is on top of what they have to pay to fix with a polluted. and there is. they have to fix everything they have polluted up to state standards, and there is no cap on what they have to pay. juan: that was governor chris christie recently. could you talk about that and also, his connection to exxon? >> nothing happens in a void. he was chair of the republican governors association. he received hundreds of thousands of dollars from exxonmobil for the governors association. it is also important to understand we're talking about a concept in law he doesn't seem to fully grasp, which is that this is a compensation for the loss of this natural resource for generations. our problem is newer a dozen have the romance of hudson
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river. newark bay is rounded by new york and new jersey, a bistate estuary. there hasn't been a conceptualized cents that it once was this rich fishery. one time this area produced enough oyster meat that this was a major thing that people used back in the 19th century to subsidize their families basic needs. we lost that ecological memory. exxon has to pay a price for being part of the diminishment and aggravation of it. amy: this is new york city mayor bill de blasio responding to your question, bob hennelly about the settlement during a news conference that you attended yesterday. >> i am absolutely concern. first of all because if a company, in his case exxon, has created damage to the environment and public health, they have to compensate for it.
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they have to make it right. we saw that with the bp oil spill in the gulf and we seen it many times with the exxon valdez in alaska. they're supposed to be a rigorous process for ensuring that the environment is restored. i don't know the details of the settlement but if the dollar figure is so low that the work can't be done i'm here and capable with what that means for the people of new york. we will certainly look into it further and decide what course of action we want to take. amy: that is to your mayor bill de blasio's answer. if you could respond and why you think governor chris christie made this deal. >> first, this is in a done deal. much like net neutrality, we're hoping for international response as we do in solidarity with ecuador, that we not set the ruling for three cents on the dollar. if that is what we get here, what are they going to get places like ecuador? the idea is that meritor blasio stepping up and being a
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bioregional steward shows a breakthrough in political thinking because this estuary has been managed by all of the political players. by governor christie did what he did iago he is for president. all we know is he goes to iowa and back to ethanol. seems to be where the cash is. juan: i want to turn to another new jersey store your family with, one of the new jersey senators, one of the leaders in senate democrats, bob menendez, recent report showed continued in federal investigation of him that may lead to an indictment. could you talk about that case? >> we are both win and this decision a long time. i don't know of your familiar with the phrase "expected to be arrested by the end of the month." i think sometimes we take anonymous sources from law enforcement activities by prosecutors to try to drive a case. senator menendez, in my piece in "the lawnsalon," he wants to stand
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his ground. he said some important predecessors who have also had trouble with the law but never went to jail -- jon corzine. these ties are kind of bullet proof. i think the people in washington should be really worried if this goes to trial. amy: bob hennelly, thank you. we will lead to all of your articles. investigative reporter, regular contributor to "salon." as we wrap up today's broadcast with a remembrance. juan: we end the show remembering danny schechter. he rose to prominence as the news dissector in the 1970's. he went on to work with a
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television producer abc house "2020" were he won awards. he left corporate media. amy: he wrote 12 books including "the more you watch, the less , you know." he made six nonfiction films about nelson mandela. user for going guest on democracy now! we spoke to him in 2013 after the passing of nelson mandela. >> i had the fortune of being at the right place at the right time in the 1960's. in my class was a remarkable woman, ruth first, who became my sort of mentor about south africa. i was recruited by the anc to go into south africa. they could not get their people in because someone give them were in prison and well-known to the security police. so people from england were then called the london recruits percent in 2000 -- were sent in.
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i was one of them. perhaps naïve about this, unaware of the consequences that awaited me if i was caught. i went anyway as an act of solidarity. i went to the funeral of the late chief who was the leader of the anc before mandela. i got an insight into how vicious the apartheid system was, how pervasive it was in people's lives. it wasn't just about race, it was about controlling people as a labor force in south africa. this was always about economics not just pigment. americans make a mistake of confusing what was happening in south africa with the civil rights movement in america where people fought to have the constitution applied to them. in south africa, there was no constitution, and there were no rights for majority, not minority, people. so i experienced that upfront and personally in a way.
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but it also kind of got me involved deeply in south africa and years later, not only did i write about south africa and was one of the organizers of the africa research group in boston, but i became active in a project called sun city, artists against apartheid. just to supplement what was said earlier, this is not all about lobbying congress. this was about informing america about what was happening. in some cases, it was cultural figures. 58 of the world's top artists who indicted the forced relocation -- experienced forced relocation. that is what sun city was all about. part of an effort to promote a cultural boycott alongside an economic boycott. and it was very successful and worldwide in its impact. and i think that was important. i helped start the tv series "south africa now," that ran for 150 six weeks, every week, and
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the united states, reporting on south africa through the eyes of south africans. it was their story -- amy: on pbs. >> pbs never officially supported it, but many stations did. it was also in 40 countries throughout suffer for cap doesn't south africa. it had an impact of bringing the movement to a world audience. i think that was critical. and then of course the documentaries. most recently, i was in south africa documenting the making of meaning of this new movie "mandela: walk to freedom." it will be in 2000 cinemas starting christmas day. it was a very dramatized, but important film about mandela in the way the movie "gandhi" was about gandhi. it leaves a lot out. that is why the producers asked me to write this book, the many faces i of nelson mandela.
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i interviewed over 150 people who worked with mandela, who were part of the soul struggle. what i got from that was not only admiration for him, but also a perspective that this was not just one man, but a movement who pulled us off this change. it was a movement that was organized in a democratic manner , from the bottom-up, not the top down. so even though we revere and admire mandela, we also have to pay respect to the people of south africa who suffered all these years -- torture, imprisonment death -- fighting apartheid. amy: danny schechter, the "news dissector" joining us in 2013. he has died of pancreatic cancer. you can watch the rest of this interview and all of his appearances on democracy now! at democracynow.org. democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to
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outreach@democracynow. annenberg media
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