CCALCP signs statement against stigmatization of anti-fracking activists in Colombia

Published by Brent Patterson on

The Luis Carlos Perez Lawyers’ Collective (CCALCP), an organization of eight women lawyers, has signed a civil society statement expressing concerns about recent comments made by former Colombian Vice-President Germán Vargas Lleras in El Tiempo.

Vargas Lleras wrote, “I think it is also time for the country to know which organizations and who are the people who lead the so-called Alliance for a Colombia Free of Fracking, which acts as a plaintiff and whose main spokesperson, Carlos Andrés Santiago, serves as political advisor to the candidate Claudia López…”

López was the vice-presidential candidate in the 2018 presidential election in Colombia for the Green Alliance party.

Vargas Lleras also names “the Network of Churches and Mining, Franciscan Environmental Board, the Intercultural Network for Healing and even the Union of the Tax Directorate” as among the 84 member groups in the Alliance.

Now more than 40 organizations have signed an open letter that says, “Public attacks against social leaders in Colombia increase the risk to their life and integrity.”

“Environmental activism is a legal and legitimate activity that, instead of being stigmatized, must be protected in a democracy.”

That letter adds, “We demand that the Colombian government guarantee the rights of the people and organizations that are members of the Colombia Fracking Free Alliance to meet, express themselves and appeal for justice.”

Crucially this demand is made in the context of the murder of 24 land and environment defenders in Colombia in 2018 alone.

Furthermore, Reuters has reported, “Colombia’s top administrative court on [September 17] clarified that a moratorium on fracking it upheld last week does not prevent ‘investigative’ pilot projects, surprising both oil companies and environmental activists.”

The President of the Council of State has now stated, “The court advises that the reach of this decision does not impede the development of comprehensive investigative pilot projects … made by the expert commission convened by the national government.”

Another Reuters article notes that the top administrative court has said that four pilot projects can proceed – “one run by coal company Drummond and the others by oil companies Ecopetrol, Exxon Mobil and Conoco Phillips” – and that “work on the pilots, or at least the infrastructure required for them, could begin next year.”

Argus Media adds, “The first pilot projects are expected to take place in the Middle Magdalena Valley basin.” That’s a 34,000 square kilometre area in the departments of Santander, Boyacá, Cundinamarca and Tolima in north-central Colombia.

That article also notes, “Environmentalists grouped in an anti-fracturing alliance predicted a ‘long road’ to carrying out the pilot projects, as they are obligated to fulfill eight conditions, including access to information, strengthening of institutional capabilities and establishment of baseline social, environmental and health data.”

Both CCALCP and CREDHOS (the Regional Corporation for the Defence of Human Rights) are members of the Alliance for a Colombia Free of Fracking.

Representatives from both CCALCP and CREDHOS will be in Canada this coming November 2-10 to share their insights about environmental protection, fracking, human rights, the role of social leaders, and the peace process in Colombia.

For more, please see SPEAKING TOUR – Climate change, human rights and the struggle for peace in Colombia.

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