Latin America

Latin American and Caribbean countries have signed almost 700 investment agreements. They have been targeted in almost 300 investor-state disputes.

Argentina has faced almost 62 ISDS cases, about 6% of all cases, making it the world’s most targeted state. Venezuela and Mexico have been among the ten most frequent respondents in the world, with 51 and 33 cases, respectively.

Many key cases such as Renco vs. Peru, Chevron vs. Ecuador or Pac Rim vs. El Salvador have originated in significant environmental damages caused by corporations. Philip Morris took an ISDS case against Uruguay over its anti-tobacco law.

Chile, Mexico and Peru are also party to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with eight other Pacific Rim states. The TPP includes an investor-state dispute mechanism that undermines public-interest ‘safeguards’.

The most well-known cases ISDS cases in the region include:

Chevron (US) vs. Ecuador: For 26 years, Texaco, later acquired by Chevron, performed oil operations in Ecuador. Ecuadorian courts found that during that period the company dumped billions of gallons of toxic water and dug hundreds of open-air oil sludge pits in Ecuador’s Amazon, poisoning the communities of some 30,000 Amazon residents. After a legal battle spanning two decades, in November 2013, Ecuador’s highest court ordered the corporation to pay $9.5 billion to provide desperately needed clean-up and health care to afflicted indigenous communities. Chevron challenged the decisions produced by Ecuador’s domestic legal system before an ISDS tribunal. In 2018, the arbitration tribunal held that the $9.5 billion judgment was fraudulent, violated international public policy and should not be recognised or enforced by the courts of other States. The amount of the award has not been established yet. (Ecuador-United States BIT invoked)

Occidental Petroleum Corporation “Oxy” (US) vs. Ecuador: in 2012 Ecuador was ordered to pay US$1.77 billion to the investor, an oil exploration and production company, for breach of contract. Sentence was reduced to US$1 billion in November 2015 (Ecuador-United States BIT invoked).

Investors vs. Argentina: When Argentina froze its utility rates in response to its 2001-2002 financial crisis, it was hit by over 40 lawsuits from investors, including Suez & Vivendi (France), Sociedad General de Aguas de Barcelona S.A (Spain) and Anglian Water (UK). The ISDS tribunal concluded that Argentina had breached the investors’ right to fair and equitable treatment. By 2014, the country had been ordered to pay a total of US$980 million (various BITs invoked).

(April 2020)

La Prensa Gráfica | 21-Mar-2011
“El tribunal determina que la disputa no se encuentra dentro de su jurisdicción y competencia de conformidad con el CAFTA.”, Resolución del tribunal del CIADI
Public Citizen | 2-Mar-2011
The award in agribusiness giant Cargill’s NAFTA investor-state attack on Mexico’s jobs program was published last week.
IPS | 14-Jan-2011
La empresa Doe Run volvió a desafiar al Estado peruano. A través de su representante, el Grupo Renco, notificó al gobierno de su intención de iniciar arbitraje internacional amparándose en TLC entre este país y EEUU.
NO a la Mina | 12-Jan-2011
La empresa estadounidense Renco Group, Inc. y su filial Doe Run Perú SRL. han iniciado un proceso de arbitraje internacional contra el Estado peruano, basándose en el TLC impuesto por EE.UU. al gobierno de Perú.
PRNewswire | 6-Jan-2011
The Renco Group has served the Republic of Peru with a "Notice of Intent to Commence an International Arbitration Proceeding" under the US-Peru FTA for the Peruvian government’s alleged failure to remediate soils poisoned by Renco’s mining operations there.
EFE | 18-Dec-2010
The Ecuadorian government hailed a decision by an International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes arbitration panel, which said it lacked jurisdiction over a lawsuit brought against Quito by US-based Murphy Oil Corporation.
AFP | 22-Nov-2010
Uruguay’s Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a constitutional challenge brought by tobacco giant Philip Morris that disputes the tiny South American country’s anti-tobacco laws.
Market Watch | 29-Sep-2010
Gold Reserve’s claim alleges violations of three provisions of the Canada-Venezuela BIT culminating in the effective expropriation of Gold Reserve’s investments in the Brisas gold/copper project and the Choco 5 gold property.
AFP | 29-Sep-2010
Le groupe minier américano-canadien Gold Reserve Inc a annoncé mardi qu’il cherchait à obtenir plus de 1,9 milliard de dollars de compensations du Venezuela pour l’expropriation de ses mines dans ce pays.
AFP | 13-Sep-2010
Uruguayan officials announced plans Thursday to take further steps to toughen controls on tobacco despite a pending legal battle with global cigarette powerhouse Philip Morris International.

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