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).

Photo: Sairen42 / CC BY-SA 3.0

(April 2020)

Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung | 8-Feb-2023
Investor rights in the expired North American Free Trade Agreement continue to undermine democratic decision-making and climate policy in Mexico, Canada, and the United States.
Diario UChile | 3-Feb-2023
"Una serie de acciones y omisiones han dañado, y continúan dañando, la inversión de UHG y el valor de Banmédica, lo que constituye una violación a sus obligaciones bajo el acuerdo suscrito entre Gran Bretaña y Chile", señalaron.
CIAR Global | 30-Jan-2023
La cancelación de un contrato de compra de fertilizante por parte del Programa de Desarrollo Productivo Agrario Rural, Agro Rural, de Perú con la empresa paraguaya Direcagro, a finales de diciembre de 2022, ha provocado que la compañía entre en la etapa de trato directo previa a recurrir a un arbitraje internacional en el que reclamará 9 millones de US dólares.
CIAR Global | 27-Jan-2023
La compañía estadounidense United Health Group ha enviado una Notificación de arbitraje al Gobierno chileno después de que, a finales de diciembre, este grupo al que pertenecen Banmédica y Vida Tres -dos aseguradoras de salud conocidas en Chile como Isapres: Instituciones de Salud Previsional privadas-, anunciara su intención de recurrir a arbitraje de inversiones contra Chile.
News5 | 27-Jan-2023
Since the company is registered in the Cayman Islands, a British Overseas Territory, it cites the Bilateral Investment Treaty between Belize and the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The Hill Times | 25-Jan-2023
Controversial ISDS provisions are trumpeted for protecting Canadian foreign investments, but are panned for allowing companies to sue countries.
Caribbean National Weekly | 25-Jan-2023
The developers of the hotel project in Grenada say while an amiable settlement remains open, the “extensive damage to the project caused by the actions of the former government has severely complicated and handicapped the efforts towards settlement.
El Economista | 24-Jan-2023
La USTR dijo que funcionarios estadounidenses continúan trabajando con sus homólogos mexicanos para abordar las “graves preocupaciones” con las políticas de biotecnología de México.
El Diario.es | 20-Jan-2023
La filial de la compañía española había realizado provisiones para cubrir este caso, que se remonta a hace dos décadas, que rondaban los 790 millones de euros
El Pais | 18-Jan-2023
La empresa pública madrileña busca una indemnización por la pérdida de su principal inversión en Latinoamérica.

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