Tim Newman, Campaigns Assistant, International Labor Rights Forum
I have written before on this blog about Tiger Woods and his role in the Bridgestone Invitational PGA Tour sponsored by labor-rights abuser Bridgestone/Firestone, so I was very interested to read sports journalist Dave Zirin's recent article about Tiger's relationship with another human rights abuser, Chevron.
According to Zirin, Tiger's charitable foundation is meant to support children's development in the U.S. and globally, but Chevron is a major sponsor of the foundation, including being the title sponsor of the Tiger Woods Foundation World Challenge Golf Tournament.
Meanwhile, Chevron has been accused of horrific abuses during the construction of its gas pipeline in Burma, its been sued for allegedly supplying the Nigerian army with weapons to attack protesters near their operations there and Chevron is also faced with lawsuits against their toxic waste dumping in Alaska, Canada, Angola and California. They have also been sued for polluting the rainforest in Ecuador which led to an epidemic of cancer in indigenous communities there.
Just today, a Nigerian activist named Larry Bowoto who was shot by Nigerian soldiers allegedly paid by Chevron subsidiary Chevron Nigeria Ltd. during a protest wrote in the Los Angeles Times:
More than 100 unarmed villagers joined me there to protest the loss of our fish, our clean water and our trees because of Chevron's oil production activities in our region, and to protest the loss of our traditional ways of supporting ourselves as a result of these activities... Chevron announced record profits in the first quarter this year of $5.17 billion, or about $5 million in profits per day. In all of 2007, Chevron spent less than one day's profits providing support to the communities where it works in Africa, according to its website.
Yikes! So faced with all of these problems, how does Tiger feel about his close relationship with Chevron.
Well, according to a recent press release, Tiger Woods himself says, “We
are delighted that Chevron has agreed to partner with the Foundation. Chevron has a track record and a commitment to
bettering the communities where they operate. We are excited about
working with them to co-develop programs that will further the efforts
of the Tiger Woods Foundation.”
There you have it folks: dumping toxic chemicals, using forced labor and arming security forces to attack communities is Tiger's idea of community improvement.
Click here to read the article from Dave Zirin.
Tiger Woods should be using his position in the public eye to call attention to these kinds of abuses and hold these corporations to task for their lack of respect. There are a lot of things that Tiger could do to make a difference for the communities who face rights violations committed by corporate sponsors like Chevron and Bridgestone/Firestone. I hope that he will reevaluate his position with these unethical companies.