rn: intro to U’wa message


Jan Slakov

Dear Renaissance Network,

I bet many, maybe most of us on this list boycott Shell, after what they did
in Nigeria, and the hanging of Ken Saro Wiwa and other Ogoni activists. If
we get on the ball now, maybe we can help prevent something similar from
happening in Colombia. ...But already one U'wa activist, Terry Freitas, has
been killed.

Let me copy some excerpts from an article I found in the autumn '97 issue of
_Adbusters_ magazine, to give you some idea why I care so much about this cause:

"U'wa and Oxy                  by Robert W. Benson (Law professor at Loyola, Los
                                 Angeles, & co-director of the International Law
                                 Center for Human, Economic & Environmental 
                                 Defence. This article originally appeared
in                                    the _Los Angeles Times_.

The U'wa indians of Colombia have threatened mass suicide if Occidental
Petroleum Corporation drills for oil on their territiory. A summit between
the U'wa, Oxy and the Colombian government at the end of May failed to reach
an agreement. Now the U'wa are in the mountains for the annual spiritual

Early in may, U'wa leader Roberto Cobaria came to Los Angeles to meet with
Oxy officials.  There, in a sterile conference room, Cobaria lifted hs voice
in song.

I was present and I had to wonder what was going through the minds of the
pink-cheeked, silver-haired oil executives as this small, dark spirit broke
into a lilting melody like a delicate rain forest bird.

...It was a song about the Father Sky and the Mother Earth, the sun and the
moon, and their connection to all people. It summed up the message Cobaria
repeated again and again in the 1 1/2 hour meeting: Americans and Colombians
have their laws, but the U'wa are bound by "the law that was law before
there was a sun and before there was a moon." Under that law, oil from deep
in Mother Earth is part of her..."

all the best, Jan
PS I will copy here the letter I am sending (on stationary of our local
environmental group, of which I am secretary) to the CEO of Fidelity:

Dear Edward C. Johnson III,

Does Fidelity really "help [people] invest responsibly?

We shall see.

Will you see that Fidelity divests itself of all Oxy stock unless Oxy
commits itself to abandon its plans to drill for oil on U'wa lands?

here in Canada some oil executives have had the courage and caring to speak
out against the deadly economic sanctions crippling Iraq. Will you have the
courage to prevent disaster in Colombia?

Sincerely, Jan Slakov