Pablo Fajardo Wins CNN Hero Award
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Plaintiffs Lawyer Beats Out 7,000 Candidates, Amazon Watch Says NEW YORK, Dec. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pablo Fajardo, the lead lawyer for the 30,000 plaintiffs in the landmark environmental lawsuit against Chevron (formerly Texaco) in Ecuador has won the CNN Hero award, in the Fighting for Justice category. Fajardo was chosen from more than 7,000 nominations from 80 countries. The international cable news station established the Fighting for Justice category to recognize leaders "advancing the cause of civil or equal rights." The honor again highlights the class-action lawsuit, brought by 30,000 impoverished rainforest dwellers, against one of the world's largest corporations and Chevron's fierce rearguard battle against the plaintiffs. The winners were unveiled last night in a live global telecast, "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute," hosted by Anderson Cooper and Christiane Amanpour, on CNN/US, CNN International and CNN en Espanol. Fajardo insisted the award was recognition for all the plaintiffs and their supporters. "Many of those that I represent have lived for thousands of years in peace with nature and yet in only three decades, their traditional lifestyle has been almost destroyed by pollution," he said. "Our work in Ecuador is an example of the good things that can happen when thousands of people, most without money or power, can come together in a common effort to better themselves and the planet." Fajardo, 35, has been spearheading the legal team for the plaintiffs for several years, as they demand an environmental remediation from Chevron estimated to cost $6 billion. During nearly three decades of drilling in a vast, inhabited area of the Ecuadorian Amazon, Texaco dumped more than 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater. Now, local communities are suffering a wave of cancers, stillbirths, and birth defects. Born into extreme poverty, Fajardo only became a lawyer in 2004, after first working as a manual laborer, while completing a correspondence law degree. Now, in his first trial, Fajardo, who travels around by bicycle, finds himself confronting Chevron's team of highly-paid, extremely experienced lawyers. Down the years, Fajardo appears to have paid a high price for his pursuit of justice. One of the friends who helped to pay for him to go through law school was murdered as was one of Fajardo's brothers, a Christian minister. Neither murder has been resolved by the Ecuadorian authorities. For more information, visit: chevrontoxico.com SOURCE Amazon Watch Simeon Tegel, +1-415-487-9600 or Mitch Anderson, +1-415-342-4783, both of Amazon Watch
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