Indigenous Minga arrives in Bogota as three Canadian companies seek to frack in Colombia in 2021

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo of the Minga arriving in Bogota by UNEES Colombia.

On October 19, the BBC reported: “Thousands of indigenous people have arrived in the Colombian capital, Bogotá, at the end of a protest march over an increase in violence in their territories.”

That article adds: “They plan to congregate at the presidential palace on Monday to demand a meeting with President Iván Duque. The protesters accuse the government of ignoring a rise in murders of indigenous leaders. They also demand to be consulted on major development projects.”

One of the issues being raised is fracking.

In an interview with El Espectador, Nelson Lemus, one of the spokespeople for the mobilization, said: “We are inviting, firstly Colombian society and secondly the president, to hold a debate on structural issues of the country : the issue of ‘fracking’, of prior consultation, and that we can express our feelings and the construction of our rights: territory, life, peace, work and all that we have constitutionally as Colombians.”

In another El Espectador article, Joe Sauca from the Cauca Regional Indigenous Council (CRIC) says: “The risks of the territory have been raised, guarantees are required to be able to be calm and free from the issue of mega-mining, ‘fracking’, from all that situation that affects our peoples.”

The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) has also expressed its opposition to fracking. In June 2018, ONIC stated that more than 200 social leaders had agreed to a “rejection of the use of FRACKING in the oil exploitation of our country and in particular of the Magdalena Medio area.”

It is in this context that we recall Charle Gambia, the CEO of Calgary-based Canacol Energy Ltd., told La Republica last month: “We have two unconventional oil blocks that we have been located in Magdalena Medio for eight years to pilot fracking. We are awaiting the regulatory framework, but we hope to run these pilots in the next two years.”

This refers to the VMM-2 and VMM-3 blocks owned by Canacol and ConocoPhillips that would impact communities including San Martin, Cesar and Puerto Wilches, Santander.

Along with Canacol, two other Canadian companies are reportedly seeking a contract to frack in Colombia: Toronto-based Sintana Energy in the VMM-37 block near Puerto Wilches, Santander, and Calgary-based Parex Resources in an unspecified location.

On October 6, RCN reported the Colombian Minister of Mines and Energy stating that six oil companies have expressed interest in the pilot projects, that the contracts for those pilot projects could be awarded between November and December, and that the pilot projects could start in the first semester of 2021.

Sixty-four land and environmental defenders were killed in Colombia last year. Seventy-six members of Indigenous communities, including six leaders, have reportedly been killed in the southwestern department of Cauca so far this year.

PBI-Canada continues to monitor this situation with respect to Indigenous concerns, Canadian companies seeking to frack in Colombia, and recognition and respect of the Indigenous human right to free, prior and informed consent.

Categories: News Updates

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