CREDHOS accompanied AguaWil water defenders receive threats for their opposition to fracking in Puerto Wilches, Colombia
Numerous organizations took part in the recent AguaWil organized cacerolazo protest against fracking including the Association of Fishermen (FEDEPESAN) and the Union of Workers of the Petroleum Industry (USO) whose banners can be seen in this photo.
On February 17, Infobae reported: “On Tuesday, February 16, the Colombia Free Alliance of Fracking reported on threats suffered by several young people from the Committee for the Defense of Water, Life and Territory of Puerto Wilches (AguaWil) for their stance on this practice of hydraulic fracturing in oil wells.”
AguaWil is accompanied by the Regional Corporation for the Defence of Human Rights (CREDHOS), which in turn is accompanied by PBI-Colombia.
The Infobae article adds: “Since December [AguaWil] has led peaceful actions of an educational, cultural and mobilization nature to express their opposition to the ‘Integral Research Pilot Projects – PPII’ [otherwise known as fracking pilot projects].”
Caracol also reports: “A letter to President Ivan Duque, signed by 33 congressmen, has denounced the alleged threats of armed men against a group of young water defenders in Puerto Wilches, Santander.”
That article adds: “In the missive [letter to the Colombian president] they ask the government to protect the lives of these young people belonging to the Committee for the Defense of Water, Life and territory (AguaWil).”
Polls show opposition to fracking
Meanwhile a new Oil Barometer poll shows that 69 per cent of people in Puerto Wilches would not agree with fracking being carried out in their municipality. Nationally, 73 per cent of Colombians would not agree with fracking being carried out in their municipality.
Colombia Reports has also highlighted that “more than 90 per cent of Colombians are against fracking, according to a [February 2019] poll.”
UN Special Rapporteurs say fracking is inconsistent with human rights
On January 29, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment David Boyd stated: “In light of its obligations under constitutional, international, human rights and environmental law …I respectfully maintain that the government of Colombia must pass a law to prohibit fracking.”
Then on February 12, the UN Special Rapporteur on toxic substances and human rights Marcos Orellana stated: “New investments in this field are incompatible with the protection of human rights. …It violates the right to live in a healthy environment and undermines sustainable development.”
Canadian company bids to frack near Puerto Wilches
While the National Hydrocarbons Agency (ANH) has already awarded a contract to Ecopetrol to conduct a fracking pilot project near Puerto Welches, three more such contracts are expected to be awarded on March 30.
One of those contracts could go to ExxonMobil in partnership with Toronto-based Sintana Energy Inc. (and its Colombian subsidiary Patriot Energy) that would likely involve the VMM-37 block also situated near Puerto Wilches.
With Colombia suffering the highest number of human rights defenders killed last year, PBI-Canada expresses its concern about the threats against the young water defenders and the possible involvement of a Canadian oil and gas company exacerbating the situation.