AGUARICO - Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa called Tuesday for a global boycott of Chevron, as part of a campaign to highlight Amazon pollution that Quito has attributed to the US oil giant.
Chevron has never worked directly in Ecuador but inherited a pollution lawsuit when it acquired Texaco in 2001, and has yet to pay an associated $19 billion fine.
"This is one of the biggest environmental disasters in the world," Correa said as he launched the campaign in the town of Aguarico, in the north Amazonian province of Sucumbios, where Texaco operated between 1964 and 1990.
"The tools that we will use to fight Chevron are the truth and a call for solidarity of citizens of the world to not buy Chevron products," he said.
Correa -- a leftist leader often critical of the United States -- dipped his hand in a pool of oily sludge left in the area and held it up for the cameras.
"To save a few dollars, Chevron used the worst mining techniques. There are around a thousand pools like this in our Amazon, and they were never taken care of, just hidden by a layer of earth to deceive the Ecuadoran state," he said.
Chevron said in a statement that Correa "has once again decided to interfere in the Chevron case" and accused him of "providing a distorted and inaccurate account of the history of these oil fields and who is responsible for the environmental impact."
Chevron maintains that state oil company Petroecuador is responsible for the pollution and cleaning of Aguarico and that the trial was marred by a corrupt judge.
Indigenous groups and local farmers sued Texaco for environmental pollution after it left the country in 1990.
After years of litigation, Chevron was ordered in 2012 to pay $19 billion, but the ruling, which it claimed was fraudulent, has yet to be reviewed by Ecuador's highest court.
Ecuador hopes that music and film stars as well as renowned environmental activists will visit the Amazon to support the cause.