Lago Agrio: The Ecuadorans’ PR People Step In It

A few weeks ago Paul Barrett reported on a tacky but seemingly insignificant misstep by the public relations people advising the Ecuadoran plaintiffs in the Chevron case:

Several dozen demonstrators gathered outside the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum in Midland to condemn Chevron, which held its annual meeting on Wednesday at the historic site in the west Texas oil patch. Humberto Piaguaje, one of the indigenous Ecuadorian leaders involved in a massive lawsuit against the oil company, helped lead the sign-waving, slogan-chanting cohort. To fill out the ranks of the demonstration, a Los Angeles-based production company offered local residents $85 apiece to serve as what the firm described in a recruiting e-mail as “extras/background people.”

Julieta Gilbert, executive producer of DFLA Films, said in the e-mail that the company “need to get a group of people to help us document this event. … We will pay each one of them $85. They will be there for a couple of hours (8am to 12 pm). We need ethically [sic] diverse people.”

Did you catch that? Ethically diverse instead of ethnically diverse? Chortles from Barrett, a long-time critic of Steven Donziger. Overwrought reactions from Chevron’s PR team on Twitter and elsewhere. Surely just a passing embarrassment for the plaintiffs. Karen Hinton, one of the Donziger’s PR people, told Barrett that the PR firm MCSquared handled the “protest,” and that MCSquared worked for the Republic of Ecuador. In PR Week, MCSquared denied that it was behind the “protest” but admitted that the Republic of Ecuador was one of its clients.
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