Protest against fracking takes place in Bogota amid concerns about human rights, environmental harm and the climate crisis

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo by Óscar Sampayo.

On December 11, Colombian environmental defender Óscar Sampayo tweeted: “In the Global Action Against Fracking, in Bogotá, we tell the government of Ivan Duque no to the fracking pilot projects in Colombia and Magdalena Medio.”

The protest took place on the steps of the state-owned petroleum company Ecopetrol in Bogota. It was co-organized by the Alliance for a Colombia Free of Fracking, Extinction Rebellion, Emergency Climática and Fridays For Future.

Sampayo says: “We reject this implementation and deepening of extractivism in Colombia, because it is deepening the climate chaos, the climate crisis, the climate emergency that lives the country today.”

The Alliance has also noted: “This Saturday, December 12 and Sunday, December 13, the Committee for the defense of water, life and the territory recently formed in Puerto Wilches (Santander) to oppose the fracking pilots, will hold a forum and a carnival march in rejection of the implementation of these projects.”

Ecopetrol plans to conduct a fracking “research project” called Kalé-1 in the village of Kilómetro 8 on a property known as La Belleza in the municipality of Puerto Wilches in the department of Santander in the Middle Magdalena Valley.

The drilling is expected to begin in the second half of 2021.

Beyond Ecopetrol, it is expected that Toronto-based Sintana Energy Inc. in collaboration with ExxonMobil will also pursue a fracking pilot project in the VMM-37 block in Puerto Wilches in the Middle Magdalena Valley.

Last month, Infobae reported: “18 social and environmental leaders of the Middle Magdalena were threatened with death through a pamphlet, signed by a paramilitary structure that called the ‘Black Eagles, Middle Magdalena Block’.”

Six of those threatened are members of the Alliance for a Colombia Free of Fracking, including Óscar Sampayo.

Environmentalists have called for a global ban on fracking given it “torpedoes our global efforts to tackle climate change and violates basic human rights.” Moreover, a researcher with the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment has highlighted concerns that fracking could endanger the fragile peace process in Colombia.

These concerns about fracking should also be understood in the context of the most recent report from the Institute for Development and Peace Studies (Indepaz) that indicates 284 social, environmental and Indigenous leaders have been killed in Colombia between January 1 and December 6 of this year.

In November 2019, Peace Brigades International hosted an advocacy tour in Canada with representatives from Barrancabermeja-based CREDHOS and Bucaramanga-based CCALCP speaking against fracking. Both Barrancabermeja and Bucaramanga are located in Santander and within proximity of Puerto Wilches.

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