2020 expected to be a pivotal year for fracking in Colombia

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On January 21, Contagio Radio reported, “On December 26, 2019, President Iván Duque published his proposal before the Decree of regulation of fracking pilots and gave the citizens time to comment and appeal until January 16, 2020, with the intention of issuing it a week later to analyze the proposals collected.”

El Tiempo adds, “On January 20, the Government plans to gather the suggestions and comments of the citizens on this draft decree.”

On October 18, 2019, RCN reported, “The president of Ecopetrol, Felipe Bayón, told RCN News that the company has in its schedule of operations the date of the second half of 2020 to drill the first wells of the pilot programs with the exploration system known as fracking.”

Opposition to pilot projects

Carlos Andrés Santiago, a member of the Alliance for a Colombia Free of Fracking, says, “We are against these pilots, because they cannot measure the impact of this activity with five wells in the Magdalena Medio, when 2,000 wells are contemplated in the exploitation phase. It is not the same.”

Concerns about social impacts, Parex Resources Inc.

The Contagio Radio article notes, “According to the Alliance for a Colombia Free of Fracking, by 2020 pilots are planned in regions such as Barrancabermeja, Puerto Wilches, Cimitarra, San Martín, among others, actions that ‘would generate not only an environmental impact, but also social because of the flow of interests in the exploited territories’.”

“For Oscar Sampayo [of the Alliance for a Colombia Free of Fracking], a fact that evidences the violence experienced in Santander occurred on January 19 in the municipality of Cimitarra, when armed actors shot at the inhabitants of the community: Saúl Mateus, Luisa Sánchez and caused the death of Jimmy Quiroga , in the middle of a soccer tournament.”

“According to the spokesman, this fact is part of the context of the territory, which is no stranger to the activation of one of the pilots, belonging to the DMN9 [aka VMM9] block of the Parex company, ‘we reject this technique and this type of exploration pilot plans, because it violates human integrity and generates the total destruction of ecosystems’.”

Parex Resources Inc. is a Calgary-based company.

National Strike protests opposed to fracking

A national strike protest took place in Colombia on January 21.

Reuters notes, “The National Strike Committee, comprising unions like the CUT [Central Union of Workers] and student groups, initially presented the government with 13 demands in talks – including stepped-up efforts to stop the murder of human rights activists and implement a peace deal with leftist rebels. …The committee later increased its demands to 104 points, including opposition to fracking.”

The Pan Am Post also notes that the demands include, “Repeal of free trade agreements (FTA).”

These protests are expected to continue to intensify this year.

Central Union of Workers (CUT) chief Diogenes Orjuela says, “The first strong action – like the one on Nov. 21, it will be similar – will take place in March.”

During a November 2019 speaking tour in Canada, Julia Figueroa and Andrea Nocove from the legal collective CCALCP and Ivan Madero from the human rights organization CREDHOS highlighted their concerns about fracking at public forums and with allies, Members of Parliament and government officials.

Photo: The projection on the wall in the Plaza de las Nieves in Bogotá says that between November 21 and January 21, 30 social leaders have been killed.


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