U’wa Day of Solidarity Feb. 3!


Jan Slakov

From: "Patrick Reinsborough" <•••@••.•••>
To: <•••@••.•••>
Subject: U'wa Day of Solidarity Feb 3!  Fidelity invests in Genocide
Date: Sat, 8 Jan 2000 18:57:33 -0800

please forward



In this post
1. Call to action for Feb 3(and beyond)
2. sample letter to Fidelity/phone zap info
3. U'wa communique of Nov 17
4. Background on the U'wa struggle



"...we ask that our brothers and sisters from other races and cultures
unite in the struggle that we are undertaking...we believe that this
struggle has to become a global crusade to defend life.”
     - Statement of the U’wa people, August, 1998

        The U'wa people of Colombia are now six weeks into their peaceful
occupation of Occidental (Oxy)Petroleum's proposed drill site.  Despite the
FARC's (left wing guerillas) pre-Christmas attack on the nearby town of
Cubara things remain peaceful at the occupation.  200 U'wa remain
continually at the site and preparations have been made for thousands more
to join them at the first sign of activity.  Occidental could move in at any

        The U'wa have pledged their lives to defend their ancestral
lands.  They need our support.  We must show the transnational corporations
that we will not tolerate their profiting off the destruction of indigenous
lands and cultures.  The uncompromising U'wa resistance speaks to us all
whether we work to protect the environment, defend human rights, promote
democracy, challenge imperialism or defend the dignity of working people.
Whatever our issue we are all a part of the "global crusade for life".

         One of the best ways to pressure Oxy is to hold their major shareholders
accountable.  One of Oxy's largest shareholders is Boston-based financial
giant Fidelity Investments which controls more than 30 million Oxy shares
valued at approximately $700 million.  Fidelity's stake in Oxy rises and
falls quarter to quarter but they are always either the largest shareholder or
among the top three controlling between 8% and 12% of the company.

        Fidelity's parent company, Fidelity Research and Management Corporation
(FMR corp), is the world's largest investment management organization and
the world's second largest discount stockbroker. Fidelity controls over $1
trillion in customer assets.  They have over 70 offices in the U.S. as well
as offices in Canada, Europe, and Asia. Ironically Fidelity's slogan is "We
help you invest responsibly".

        A coalition of human rights and environmental groups sent Fidelity a letter
just before Christmas warning them that we will hold them accountable for
Oxy's actions in Colombia.  The letter gave Fidelity a deadline of March 1
to either convince Occidental to cancel the project or to show that they
will not invest in genocide by dumping all their Oxy stock.

        If Fidelity decides to address the issue of U'wa lands then Oxy will
listen. It is up to us grassroots activists around the world to make
Fidelity address this issue.  We must show Fidelity that we will not
tolerate their profiteering off the destruction of the U'wa culture.  We need to
demonstrate at their stores, educate their customers, flood them with
emails, phone calls, faxes and do whatever is necessary to make Fidelity
take action on behalf of the U'wa.

          Organize a vigil, demonstration or direct action at the
nearest Fidelity office.  If Fidelity is not in your area organize something
at a Colombian consulate/embassy or an educational event in your community.
Highlight America's role in financing the Colombian military.  Reprint and
circulate the communique or background article below.  Make your local press
cover this issue by writing letters, articles and organizing solidarity
actions. Harass Al Gore when he makes campaign appearances about why he is
accepting campaign contributions from Occidental. Get local associations,
governments, unions or faith groups to pass a resolution in support of the
U'wa. Please let Patrick at Rainforest Action Network know if you are
organizing something.

        Rainforest Action Network can provide hard copies of materials (they can
also be downloaded from our website at www.ran.org) and copies of a 10
minute video on the murder of U'wa activist Terry Freitas.  Additional
information can be found at www.amazonwatch.org and www.moles.org.

        Communications with the U'wa have been difficult as the one phone line to
the U'wa office in Cubara has been repeatedly cut off.  Fortunately the U'wa
Defense Working Group has raised the funds for a satellite phone that will
provide a direct link to the occupation site.  Unfortunately satellite
phones are enormously expensive with calls running up to $5 a minute.  Funds
will be desperately needed to pay the bill.  If you would like to contribute
send donations  (marked "U'wa phone") to Amazon Watch 200110 Rockport Way
Malibu CA 90265 USA.

In solidarity for the Earth and all her peoples,
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


Edward C. Johnson III
Chairman and CEO Fidelity Investments
82 Devonshire St.
Boston, MA  02109
Telephone: 800-544-6666
Fax: 617-476-4164


Dear Mr. Johnson III,

I recently learned that Occidental Petroleum is moving forward with the
Samore Block oil project on the traditional territory of the U'wa People of
Colombia.  As you probably know, the U'wa are adamantly opposed to
Occidental's drilling plans and are willing to die to stop this project.

Fidelity is one of the largest shareholders of Occidental stock, and as
such has unrivaled power to influence Occidental's decisions.  I urge you
to do everything in your power to stop this human and ecological tragedy
before it takes place.

If the Samore Block project goes forward, it will jeopardize the lives of
five thousand people and the health of a fragile forest ecosystem.  The
project will also have repercussions that extend far beyond Colombia, as
the U'wa have overwhelming international support.

As one of Occidental's primary shareholders, Fidelity has a responsibility
to take a stand on this highly controversial and potentially deadly
project.  Please let me know what steps you plan to take to resolve this

Your Name

ALSO CONTACT   Occidental and the Colombian government directly :
Dr Ray Irani, President and CEO
Occidental Petroleum Corporation
10889 Wilshire Blvd.,
Los Angeles, CA 90024
or Via fax: (310) 443 6922

Presidente Andres Pastrana
Casa Presidencial
Bogota, Colombia
Colombian Embassy Washington D.C.
Phone : (202)-387-8338


Association of U'wa Traditional Authorities

November 17, 1999
Cubara, 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


"We will in no way sell our Mother Earth, to do so would be to give up our
work of collaborating with the spirits to protect the heart of the world,
which sustains and gives life to the rest of the universe, it would be to go
against our own origins, and those of all existence."
- Statement of the U'wa People, August 1998

The U’wa of the Colombian cloud forest are in a life-and-death struggle to
protect their traditional culture and sacred homeland from an oil project
slated to begin on their land at anytime. The U’wa are adamantly opposed to
the drilling and warn that the project will lead to an increase in violence
as seen in other oil regions of Colombia. Despite this, Los Angeles-based
Occidental Petroleum and the Colombian government continue to move forward
with plans to drill. The U’wa have made a call for international support;
now is the time for us to answer.

The U’wa’s opposition to the oil project is so strong that they have vowed
to commit collective suicide if Occidental Petroleum and the Colombian
government proceed with the project on their ancestral lands. The U’wa,
a traditional people some 5,000 members strong, explain they prefer a death
by their own hand than the slow death to their environment and culture that
oil production will bring. A core tenet of U’wa culture and spirituality is
the belief that the land that has sustained them for centuries is sacred.
They strongly believe that to permit oil exploration on these sacred lands
would upset the balance of the world. In the words of the U’wa, “Oil is the
blood of Mother Earth...to take the oil is, for us, worse than killing your
own mother. If you kill the Earth, then no one will live.”

The U’wa people’s struggle exploded into the public arena last March with
the tragic murders in Colombia of three indigenous rights activists:
Terence Freitas, Ingrid Washinawatok and Lahe’ane’e Gay. Terence was one of
the founders of the U'wa Defense Working Group and had devoted
the last two years of his life to supporting the U’wa in their campaign to
stop Occidental’s oil project, reclaim their ancestral homeland and protect
their traditional culture. Ingrid and Lahe’ane’e were coordinating with the
U’wa to launch an educational project designed to maintain and promote the
U’wa’s traditional way-of-life.

These murders and the intimidation the U'wa have already persevered are but
a harbinger of the wider physical violence the oil project will bring to
their people. Throughout Colombia, oil and violence are linked inextricably.
Occidental’s Caño Limón pipeline, just north of U’wa territory, has been
attacked by leftist guerillas more than 600 times in its 13 years of
existence, spilling some 1.7 million barrels of crude oil into the soil and
rivers. The Colombian government has militarized oil production and pipeline
zones, often persecuting local populations the government assumes are
helping the guerrillas. Oil projects have already taken their toll on many
other indigenous peoples of Colombia, including the Yarique, Kofan and

The current drilling plans threaten the survival of both the U’wa and their
environment. The U’wa’s cloud forest homeland in the Sierra Nevada de Cocuy
mountains near the Venezuelan border is one of the most delicate, endangered
forest ecosystems on the planet. It is an area rich in plant and animal life
unique to the region, and the U’wa depend on the balance and bounty of the
forest for their survival. Where oil companies have operated in other
regions of the Amazon basin, cultural decay, toxic pollution, land invasions
and massive deforestation have followed.

Occidental first received an exploration license for the 1.5 billion barrel
oil field- the equivalent of three months of U.S. consumption -in 1992.
Since then, the U’wa have voiced their consistent opposition to the oil
project. They have taken a variety of actions to halt the project including
the filing of lawsuits against the government in Colombia, petitioning the
Organization of American States to intervene, appealing directly with
Occidental’s top executives, and reaching out to company shareholders.

Last April U'wa representatives came to Los Angeles to directly confront
Occidental. Along with several hundred supporters the U'wa marched on
Oxy's HQ and demanded a meeting with CEO Ray Irani. When they were refused
entry activists occupied the street in front of the building and held an
inspirational rally on Oxy's front steps. Two days later on April 30th
while the U'wa spoke at Occidental's shareholder meeting there were
demonstrations at Colombian consulates and embassies around the world.

The U.S has very strong ties with Colombia. Not only does Colombia sell
most of its oil to the U.S. market but under the auspices of the "War on
Drugs" U.S. military aid to the repressive regime in Colombia continues to
grow. In 1999 Colombia received $289 million in aid making them the third
largest recipient of U.S. military aid in the world after Israel and Egypt.
The U.S already has hundreds of military advisors in Colombia and the
Clinton administration is proposing to give Colombia an additional $1.5
billion dollars.

In August the Colombian government expanded the U'wa legal reserve. However
the expansion includes only a portion of the U'wa traditional territory. The
new borders were drawn in such a way as to place Occidental's first drill
site just outside of the reserve boundaries. The Colombian government is
cynically using this bureaucratic slight-of-hand to maintain that drilling
will not
happen on U'wa land.

On December 15th leftist guerillas attacked the town of Cubara where the
Traditional Authority's office is located.  The police station was destroyed
and 28 homes; three police were killed and 10 civilians hurt.  The U'wa
office was unharmed but this attack is a clear harbinger of the violence
that oil
development will bring as Colombia's bloody civil war spreads into U'wa

With drilling imminent and violence increasing in the region the urgency of
the U’wa struggle has never been so great. The U'wa need all of us to
them in their struggle. Spread the word. Tell their story. Educate.
Contact Occidental and the Colombian government. Demand they cancel the
project now!