PBI-Colombia accompanied CREDHOS calls for security guarantees for environmental and water defenders in the Magdalena Medio region
Image: CREDHOS president Ivan Madero speaking on Enlace Televisión.
On March 30, PBI-Colombia tweeted this quote from a TV interview done by CREDHOS president Ivan Madero: “The water and environmental leaderships in the territories are in serious danger, suffer threats and attacks.”
This refers to the situation in the Magdalena Medio, an area spread over seven departments, notably Santander, Antioquia, and Cesar, that also includes the municipalities of Barrancabermeja, Puerto Wilches and San Martin.
Enlace Televisión has also reported: “The Regional Corporation for the Defense of Human Rights – CREDHOS – spoke out against threats against social leaders and called on the authorities to provide security guarantees for them.”
The 90-second clip of Madero speaking can be seen here.
In that interview he further notes that they registered threats against environmental defenders at the end of last year and the beginning of this year.
On March 24, CREDHOS received a death threat both on their office landline and on Madero’s personal cellphone.
Earlier this month, Alfredo Molano Jimeno wrote in El Espectador about the threats faced by opponents of fracking in the Magdalena Medio including Yuli Velasquez, Luis Alberto González and 20-year-old Yuvelis Natalia Morales, a member of the Committee for the Defence of Water, Life and Territory of Puerto Wilches (AguaWil).
Yuli, a defender of the San Silvestre wetland, had several shots fired at her on January 20 while at home by two men on a motorcycle. Yuvelis, an anti-fracking activist, had two men break into her home who told her to stop and that they could kill her any day.
And in November 2020, eighteen social leaders in Magdalena Medio were threatened with death through a pamphlet signed by the Black Eagles paramilitary. Six of those threatened are members of the Alliance for a Colombia Free of Fracking.
PBI-Canada expresses concern about this situation and further notes that environmental defenders have raised issues with the Calgary-based Parex Resources Aguas Blancas oil field in Simacota, Santander, which is in the Magdalena Medio region.
We also note with concern that Toronto-based Sintana Energy could be partnering with ExxonMobil in its Platero fracking pilot project proposal near Puerto Wilches, Santander (again in the Magdalena Medio region).
And given Yuli is with the Federation of Artisanal Fishers and Environmentalists of Santander and a defender of the San Silvestre wetland, we further note that El Espectador and Mongabay have reported on concerns about the impact of the Sogamoso dam on San Silvestre and the nearby Llanito wetland. Toronto-based Brookfield Assets Management owns a majority share in the Colombian company Isagen which operates the dam.
We hope to be able to soon formally announce a bilingual webinar on the issues noted above to be held on Thursday April 29 in collaboration the Canadian accountability project Above Ground. Stay tuned for details on that coming soon.