Senator Iván Cepeda warns of the violence and human rights violations to come with fracking in Colombia

Published by Brent Patterson on

It is expected that Toronto-based Sintana Energy (through its Colombian subsidiary Patriot Energy Oil & Gas in partnership with the Texas-based transnational ExxonMobil) will be awarded a contract by the Colombian hydrocarbon agency (ANH) on November 25 to begin a fracking pilot project in Puerto Wilches, Santander.

On a webinar last night about Canada’s role in Colombia’s humanitarian tragedy, Cepeda commented on the wider context of this:

“One of the ways proposed to resolve the economic crisis [in Colombia] is a new phase of extractivism-based economy, a form of neo-extractivism is what we call it, that means intensifying mining exploration, but it also implements new methods like fracking to extract petroleum and other forms and methods that will lead to misery, destruction in many regions of the country and they will in turn lead to more violence.”

“It’s unquestionably true the research we’ve done in the Colombian Congress I’ve led many debates that looked at the relation between mining, extractivist industry and human rights violations in the country.”

“Indeed, it’s clear that big corporations that are present in territories where there is armed conflict and violence factors promote those violations.”

Cepeda also referenced a concern about the relationship between transnational corporations and the Colombian military.

He noted: “There is evidence of companies, I’m not saying just Canadians, but there is evidence of companies that have hired paramilitary groups. [There are also contracts between companies and the Colombian armed forces] in a sense the army becomes a privately hired company for security purposes for the multinational.”

It has been reported that 70 national and international companies, mainly in the mining-energy sector, have 200 cooperation agreements with public institutions in Colombia, including the Ministry of Defence and even the Attorney General’s Office.

There is the notable example of the contracts between Toronto-based Frontera Energy and the Colombian military that led to the criminalization and arrest of eight social leaders in San Luis de Palenque, Casanare who were protesting against the social and environmental impacts of the Canadian oil company on their community.

Additionally, there is the current concern about a death threat received by environmental activists in the Magdalena Medio region who are opposed to fracking.

PBI continues to monitor this situation closely.

Cepeda became a human rights activist after his father was assassinated in 1994. Prior to being elected to the House of Representatives in 2010 and the Senate in 2014, Cepeda was accompanied by PBI-Colombia.

Near the end of this 2-minute PBI-Colombia video from last year, Cepeda says: “Today I’m speaking here with you thanks to PBI. The paramilitary took me off a vehicle and there was a moment where if two PBI women hadn’t been with me, an Italian and a Norwegian, they probably would have made me disappear.”

The video of the Canadian Latin American Alliance webinar on Canada’s role in Colombia’s humanitarian tragedy can be watched in full here.

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