CCALCP, the defence of Bari territory and Judgement T-052
The Luis Carlos Perez Lawyers’ Collective (CCALCP), an organization of eight women lawyers, works on key legal issues, notably the defence of territory. Its head office is in Bucaramanga (Santander) and it has a second office in Cúcuta (Norte de Santander).
The Bari people and the loss of their territory
The Barí people have lived in the Catatumbo region (Norte de Santander) for centuries. They currently live on two reservations and 24 communities.
This article by Crudo Transparente notes their territory has declined from 16,000 square kilometres in 1900 to 2,400 square kilometres in 1980.
The Bari see their territory as sacred
“In the Barí cosmogony [origin/creation beliefs], the territory is sacred and is understood from a direct relationship with the environment.”
“The Barí understand the protection of the territory as a fundamental need to ensure their subsistence, since any alteration of the natural order endangers the existence of the community, either because it can cause an environmental catastrophe or why spaces are modified where deities or sacred spirits live.”
Resource extraction from Bari territory
“Faced with the hydrocarbons industry, the Barí people have had a tradition of resistance, which highlights the ongoing clashes with oil companies, the public force and judicial activism for the prohibition of projects of this type in their territory.”
The escalation of violence and non-state armed actors
Crudo Transparente notes that the National Liberation Army (ELN) and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) arrived on Bari territory between 1975 and 1990. The United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) arrived in 1996.
The area is considered a strategic territory for drug trafficking across the Venezuela border, it being fertile territory for coca crops, and its an important part of the country’s oil infrastructure, including the Caño Lemon-Coveñas pipeline.
Peaceful resistance and legal actions in defence of territory
The Bari struggle for struggle for territory has taken two routes.
“The first, of peaceful resistance to armed actors such as guerrillas; and the second, the undertaking of legal actions through the means provided by the Colombian State. The latter brought fruits in 2017 through the ruling of the Constitutional Court that requires territorial restitution in the terms that the Barí people demand.”
Court ruling T-052
In April 2018, Crudo Transparente commented, “The delimitation authorized by the Constitutional Court in judgment T-052 of 2017, must be followed promptly by the relevant entities. This will allow the Barí to constitute a single indigenous reservation; helping them strengthen identity traits and protect their territory.”
“The competent authorities are required to delimit the territory and extension of the existing reserves, this in order to return to the Barí the space of which they are the legitimate historical owners and where they have developed their life as a community.”
“The ruling of the Constitutional Court is transcendental [of great importance] because for the first time it orders the Colombian State, that the safeguards be delimited according to the requirements of the indigenous people and not in the way that it considers necessary or convenient for their interests.”
The full ruling can be read at Judgment T-052/17.
Further reading about CCALCP’s legal work and key rulings: T-361 and the delimitation of Santurbán páramo; T-880 and the right to free, prior and informed consent; suit against the National Hydrocarbons Agency and two oil companies re: fracking and court challenge vs Eco Oro mining in the Santurbán páramo.