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Ecuador's President Takes Chevron Fight to U.S.

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa shows an oil-covered hand at the Aguarico 4 oil well in Aguarico, Ecuador in Sept. 2013
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa shows an oil-covered hand at the Aguarico 4 oil well in Aguarico, Ecuador in Sept. 2013Photograph by Rodrigo Buendia/AFP via Getty Images

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa is bringing his populist campaign against Chevron to the oil company’s home country, and a bipartisan group of U.S. senators has welcomed him by challenging Correa’s human rights and anti-free speech record back in Ecuador.

For years, Correa has used Chevron as a symbol of American imperialism and callousness, pointing to a multibillion-dollar oil pollution judgment imposed on the company by an Ecuadorian court in 2011. Last year the Ecuadorian government launched a worldwide boycott-and-publicity blitz against Chevron under the banner “The Dirty Hand,” a reference not only to the company’s alleged environmental culpability but also to a ritual in which Correa visits contamination sites in the Amazon rain forest and dips his hand into a pool of waste oil.