Human rights activist Sonia Lopez comments on fracking and repression in Colombia

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On July 30, Common Frontiers, the Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine (CDHAL) and Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie (PASC) hosted a webinar titled Militarization and COVID-19 in Colombia.

That webinar featured Charo Mina Rojas of the Black Communities’ Process (PCN) and Sonia Lopez from the Joel Sierra Foundation for Human Rights.

Peace Brigades International-Canada is grateful to the organizers and speakers and for the opportunity to ask this question:

“The contracts for the fracking pilot projects are expected to be awarded in September/October. Three Canadian extractive companies are reportedly bidding on those contracts. Can the speakers offer their thoughts on how the fracking pilot projects will impact defenders and communities – and on the ability of communities to speak against fracking during a pandemic and a time of escalating assassinations?”

Lopez, a lawyer and human rights activist, responded:

I think definitely those projects are a catastrophe for our territories and our people.

The three North American companies that are interested in the pilot projects – Exxon, Drummond and another one – that will start in Santander, Bolivar and Cesar.  We were alerted on that.

We have been stressing the fact that those companies have a long history of disrespecting biodiversity, territories, communities, for example the wetlands of Santurban are under threat. Communities have been mobilizing historically against those companies to protect those fragile ecosystems.

Fracking is another threat that goes with those expulsions and land grabs.

We’ve been making calls. We need to build a common front to resist fracking because we know there will be social mobilizations against those pilot projects and that those communities are going to be repressed.

We also think that part of the arrest that happened against some social leaders in past weeks in Santander, for example, we think has to do with fracking. They are spreading terror among social leaders and movements so that people do not resist against fracking.

This is reason people have been jailed and assassinated lately, it is because of fracking.

We need mobilizations everywhere, we need mobilizations on all corners of the planet, because we need to take back the streets, and we need to stand up for our rights.

But we also need all the kind of advocacy actions, political advocacy, that can be done to your governments and states that allows us to make strong collective statement to the Colombian state so that we can contain the genocide against social movements and make space and protection for social leaders in the territories.

We need those two tools.

We need to build those common fronts to resist this kind of aggression against the territories. The attention of the Colombian government must be called on for it to respect the agreements that they are not respecting.

To watch the full 1-hour webinar, please click here.

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