rn: Colombia, oil & holocaust…


Jan Slakov

From: "Brian Hill" <•••@••.•••>
To: <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: Our Holocaust (focus on Colombia)
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 1999 09:58:28 -0800


A friend was returning last week from a Latin American country and
happened to sit beside an oil industry employee on the plane who said
he was leaving Colombia, and the oil company abandoned all of its
equipment because the Guerrillas told them they would be killed if
they didn't leave.

This is what the so-called Colombian drug war is all about -
protecting petroleum profits - good old imperialism.

Here is another report, and a close friend is in this Choco region
now, so we should have first hand reports shortly.

The following info is from http://www.wrm.org.uy

- Colombia: violence and deforestation in the Choco region

Colombian forests are undergoing a severe process of destruction. The
civil war that is devastating the country can be considered one of the
main causes of deforestation. Due to the prevailing state of violence
in Colombia, entire rural communities are obliged to leave their homes
and lands. Additionally to their effects from a social and cultural point
of view, forced displacements also create conditions for further negative
impacts on forests.

The Pacific Region of the country, known for its abundance of natural
resources and cultural richness, as well as for the constant process
of depredation that it has suffered since colonial times (see WRM
Bulletin 27) is victim of this type of activities. The Forcibly Displaced
Afro-Colombian Communities of the Cacarica Basin of the Choco,
provisionally settled in Turbo, Bocas del Atrato and Bahia Cupica have
denounced the illegal and indiscriminate deforestation of their lands
by the YIREH cooperative. This company is apparently operating in
connection with the logging corporation Darien Woods Company (Maderas de El

While the community resists returning to their lands until the
Colombian government fulfills their list of conditions for what they call a
"Return with Dignity", the above named company is taking advantage of their
absence to log in the territories that have been legally awarded to
the communities under Law 70 for Black Ethnic Communities. Moreover, the
communities have reported acts of harassment by paramilitaries, who
are trying to intimidate them so as to avoid their opposition to logging
activities in their territory. It is important to mention that the
Cacarica Basin borders the Los Katios National Park, which is home to
one of the highest levels of biodiversity per square mile in the world.

>From August 19 to 21 a verification commission integrated by
representatives of the communities, national and international NGOs,
parliamentarians and delegates from government bodies, travelled to
the area to investigate the ongoing deforestation process. The following
is a translation of the Communities' testimony, published in their
newsletter "Humanos del Mundo":

"...We were witnesses, together with representatives from government
bodies and institutions of the State, of the horrendous scenario of
deforestation that Maderas de El Darien is causing in the region of
the Cacarica.  Before our very eyes we saw two boats pass by -belonging to
this company- towing through the river more than 400 trees belonging
to endangered species of the "catival" forests.  We heard high-tech heavy
machinery that does not sink into the muddy swampland; we saw how they
continued opening channels to take out our natural wealth;  we were
sadenned by the occupation of our school buildings that have now been
turned into camps for the workers. We are not lying: large companies
are turning our territory into a cemetery for nature; no longer did we
walk through the trees but rather with the sun hitting our foreheads.  This
is an Ecocide."

According to testimonies obtained from the company's workers,
CODECHOC -the governmental body in charge of granting logging contracts in the
region- is aware of the illegal deforestation and has done nothing to
stop it. Such omission and negligence is collaborating with the massive
destruction of the forest.

An action at the international level is being carried out to stop this
destruction. You can address the following Colombian authorities,
expressing your concern on the accelerated deforestation and the
suffering of the communities of the Cacarica Basin, and calling for an immediate
suspension of every logging contract in the area:

Mr. President
Dr Andres Pastrana Arango
Fax (011-571) 283-7324
      (011-571) 286-7434
      (011-571) 287-7937

Mr Minister of the Environment
Dr. Juan Mayr
fax: (011-571) 288-7639

Source: Colombia Support Network, 12/10/00, e-mail: •••@••.•••
From: "Patrick Reinsborough" <•••@••.•••>
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 1999 22:57:07 -0800

In this post :

1. Update - Solidarity Actions Needed!
2. communiqué from the U'wa Traditional Authorities
3. Press Release from U'wa Defense Working Group
4. Reuters article on U'wa occupation Nov 17


Greetings friends and supporters of the U'wa,

I need say little to add to the most recent U'wa communiqué for their words
are far more powerful than mine.  They have called for supporters to join
them in their occupation of the drill site as well as to take action around
the world to draw attention to this situation.   As Occidental Petroleum,
backed up by the Colombian military prepares to move into the drill site all
of us around the world must stand in solidarity with them.
        Please take your solidarity to the streets.  Organize a vigil,
demonstration or direct action at the nearest Colombian consulate/embassy.
Highlight America's role in financing the Colombian military.  Reprint and
circulate the communiqué below.  Make your local press cover this issue by
writing letters, articles and organizing solidarity actions. Harrass Al Gore
when he makes campaign apperances about why he is accepting campaign
contributions from Occidental. Get local associations, groups, unions or
faith groups to pass a resolution in support of the U'wa.   Incorporate the
U'wa issue into your demonstrations against the WTO and corporate
globalization on Nov 30 they are an incredible example of resistance from
the frontlines of the global economy!
        Rainforest Action Network can provide hard copies of materials (they can
also be downloaded from our website at www.ran.org).  Additional information
can be found at www.amazonwatch.org and www.moles.org.
        We are completing research on Occidental's shareholders and expect to have
some additional financial targets that we can all put pressure on very soon.
One of the biggest investors in Occidental is Fidelity Investments.  They
have outlets in financial districts in many major cities in the U.S, Canada,
Europe and Japan (usually ground floor, plenty of windows, high traffic
locations).  Take a look around your local financial district and see if you
can find them.  We will keep you posted on what we discover and potential
actions we could demand Fidelity take on behalf of the U'wa.  Let us know
what you are planning in your area.

In the spirit of the U'wa resistance,
Patrick Reinsborough,
Grassroots Coordinator

Rainforest Action Network
221 Pine St Suite 500  San Francisco CA 94104
phone - 415-398-4404/1-800-989-RAIN    fax - 415-398-2732


Association of U'wa Traditional Authorities

November 17, 1999
Cubará, Colombia


Approximately 200 members of the U'wa indigenous tribe of northeastern
Colombia assembled in a permanent settlement on part of our ancestral lands
yesterday, November 16. This area, which has been colonized by farmers, is
the site where the multinational company Occidental Petroleum (Oxy) wants
to drill the oil well "Gibraltar 1," an action which threatens life and our
ancient culture.

With this permanent presence and with the support of the local farmers of
Sarare, we are claiming our ancestral and constitutional rights to life and
to our traditional territory.  We demand that the Colombian government and
Oxy leave us in peace and that once and for all they cancel the oil project
in this area.  We U'wa people are willing to give our lives to defend
Mother Earth from this project which will annihilate our culture, destroy
nature, and upset the world's equilibrium.  Caring for the Earth and the
welfare of our children and of future generations is not only the
responsibility of the U'wa people but of the entire national and
international society.

We reject the violence perpetrated by the armed actors in the region.  We
also urge indigenous peoples worldwide, national and international
non-governmental organizations, and the general public to work in
solidarity with us, rejecting this project planned by the Colombian
government and Oxy. We urgently request that you support us with your
physical presence in our territory.  In addition, we ask people around the
world who value the Earth and indigenous peoples to speak out against the
multinational oil company Oxy through protests, letters and other actions
of solidarity.


Roberto Perez, President of Tribal Council
U'wa Traditional Authorities



November 17, 1999
For immediate release

Mark Westlund -- 415-398-4404
Atossa Soltani -- 310-456-1340
David Rothschild -- 202-785-3334
U'wa office in Colombia +5778-838-037
for addition contact numbers in Colombia call above listed numbers



Bogota, Colombia --  200 U'wa Indians, including women, children and tribal
elders marched on the site of Occidental Petroleum's planned oil well
Gibraltar 1, establishing a permanent settlement to block the drilling
slated to begin in the coming weeks.  Hundreds of additional U'wa are
expected to continue arriving to the settlement in upcoming days.  Tribal
leaders declared that this permanent settlement is a necessary to block the
drilling after legal battles and direct appeals to the company and
government have failed to date.

Oxy's entire oil block falls within the U'wa's ancestral territory. The
U'wa, a traditional tribe of some 5,000 people living in the cloudforests
of northeastern Colombia have repeatedly declared their absolute opposition
to Oxy's oil project. The U'wa cannot allow drilling on their ancestral
lands as they believe that oil is the blood of the Earth.  The oil project
is widely expected to escalate conflicts in the region among the armed
factions, resulting in violence against the U'wa, as seen in other oil
areas of Colombia. Despite this, in September the Colombian Minister of the
Environment approve a drilling license for the first exploratory well.

"We are willing to have the government bomb us, but we will not abandon
these ancestral lands because we must stop Oxy from drilling for oil, which
is the blood of our Mother Earth," U'wa international spokesperon Berito
Kuwaru'wa, declared from the U'wa settlement at Gibraltar.

Today, in the Colombian capital of Bogota, 25 U'wa representatives
including Tribal Council president Roberto Perez marched on the Ministry of
the Environment, calling for Colombian and international support at this
critical moment in their campaign.  In the communiqué that follows, the
U'wa make an urgent appeal to their supporters to join them in solidarity
at the settlement during this non-violent stand to defend their culture,
land and lives.

For more information on the U'wa and their campaign please see:
www.ran.org, www.amazonwatch.org, www.moles.org

The U'wa Defense Working Group includes:
Amazon Watch, Action Resource Center, Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund,
EarthWays Foundation, International Law Project for Human Environmental &
Economic Defense, Project Underground, Rainforest Action Network, Sol
Communications, U'wa Defense Project

#4 REUTERS article

note - the article suggests that there may be as may as 2.5 billion barrels
of oil underneath U'wa land.  As Project Underground (authors of the
definitive "Blood of our Mother" report on the U'wa situation) have pointed
out this number represents a gross inflation of the original 1.5 billion
barrels that was estimated to be in the Samore block.

 By Karl Penhaul
   BOGOTA, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Militant Colombian Indians have seized an area
they claim as ancestral homelands to prevent a U.S. multinational from
drilling for oil and pledged Wednesday to "defend Mother Earth to the death".

   Some 200 U'wa Indians occupied late Tuesday the Gibraltar-1 test site in
the Samore block in northeast Colombia.

   The 500,000 acre (209,000 hectare) exploration area is tipped to harbor
up to 2.5 billion barrels of crude and could ensure the country's energy
needs well into the next century.

   Occidental Petroleum Corp <OXY.N> won approval in late September to begin
drilling for crude there after a seven-year legal wrangle over indigenous
land rights blocked work.

   But in a strongly-worded communique issued Wednesday, Roberto Perez, head
of the 5,000-strong U'wa community, called for Occidental and the government to
shelve the plan for good.

   "We demand that the government and Occidental leave us in peace and
cancel the project for oil drilling in this zone,"  Perez said.

   "The U'wa people are committed to give their lives to defend Mother Earth
from this project which would destroy our culture, nature and world balance," he

   Perez did not spell out what measures the U'wa were prepared to take but
the community has, in the past, threatened to commit mass suicide if the oil
industry encroached on what it considered ancestral lands.

   Occidental's planned Gibraltar-1 test site lies just outside the
government-recognized Indian reservation but inside an area that the U'wa
claim as traditional tribal homelands.

   In August, the government enlarged the U'was' official reservation almost
fivefold to 543,000 acres (220,000 hectares). But the U'was, whose semi-nomadic
ancestors roamed across the cloud forests and plains of at least three
provinces in northeast and central Colombia, demand rights to a much larger

   Shannon Wright, spokeswoman for the U.S.-based Rainforest
Action Network, said Wednesday that more U'wa Indians could pour into the
area around Gibraltar-1.

   International activists, grouped under the banner of the California-based
U'wa Defense Working group, are also planning to join the protest.

   Earlier this year, three American indigenous activists were brutally
murdered by leftist rebels as they worked with the U'was to help prevent
Occidental encroaching on Indian lands.

   "The U'wa are at a critical juncture. Everything is calm right now but
given that oil areas are the center of violent conflict there is significant
concern that the U'wa could be caught in the crossfire (as a result of their
protest)," Shannon told Reuters.

   An Occidental spokesman said the company was still evaluating the impact
of the U'wa land occupation and declined to speculate on the possible
consequences of the protest.

   He said the U.S. multinational, which operates the 130,000 barrel-per-day
Cano Limon field in northeast Arauca province, planned to sink the first
test drill in Samore "sometime next year".

   The first exploration well is expected to be some 14,000 feet deep and
cost some $30 million.
   ((--Bogota newsroom (571) 634 4090, •••@••.•••))

Wednesday, 17 November 1999 10:47:01
ENDS [nN17220392]