CRY-GEAM calls on international community to be attentive to human rights violations with fracking in Colombia

Published by Brent Patterson on

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CRY-GEAM photo.

On March 31, the National Hydrocarbons Agency (ANH) provisionally approved a proposal from ExxonMobil to develop its Platero fracking pilot project in the Magdalena Medio region. A licence is expected to be awarded to them on April 8.

The first licence for a fracking pilot project in Colombia was awarded by the National Hydrocarbons Agency to Ecopetrol on November 25, 2020 for its Kalé project near the community of Puerto Wilches, Santander.

CRY-GEAM calls on the international community to be attentive

The Barrancabermeja, Santander-based Yariguíes Regional Corporation – Social Research Group into Extractives and the Environment in the Magdalena Medio Region (CRY-GEAM) opposes these fracking projects.

On April 1 they tweeted: “The development of unconventional deposits and the start of fracking pilot projects in Magdalena Medio, deepen the environmental sacrifice and human rights violations in Magdalena Medio.”

Their fuller statement released on the same day states: “We hold the Colombian State, the ANH, Ecopetrol and the American oil company ExxonMobil, [responsible for the] threats, displacements, attacks, murders and acts of human rights violations that can occur in the Magdalena Medio region and in the department of Santander, Colombia, due to the start of the integral fracking research pilot projects…”

“It is public knowledge of the alleged relationships of armed actors and criminals with several companies that have contracts with oil companies that operate in Magdalena Medio and in Colombia, to remember that the murdered drug trafficker Ñeñe Hernández, owned several contractor companies at the service of oil companies in Magdalena Medio, as has been revealed journalist Julián Martínez and La Nueva Prensa.”

Their statement concludes: “We call on the international community to be attentive, accompany and report together with the environmental organizations, trade unions and defenders of human rights of the Magdalena Medio and Santander, the increase in the presence of armed groups, such as intimidating acts and attacks against the people and organizations that reveal the environmental sacrifice suffered by the region, at times where it is intended to impose the fracking by the government of Iván Duque.”

Threats against environmental defenders in the Magdalena Medio region

On March 24, the Regional Corporation for the Defence of Human Rights (CREDHOS), which also opposes fracking in the Magdalena Medio region, received a death threat both on their office landline and on their president’s personal cellphone.

Earlier in March, 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.

Upcoming PBI webinar

PBI-Canada remains attentive to this situation.

We note with additional concern that Toronto-based Sintana Energy could be partnering with ExxonMobil in the Platero fracking pilot project.

We will also be holding a webinar on Thursday April 29 at 3:30 pm ET (2:30 pm in Colombia) titled: Environmental defenders challenging extractivism in the Magdalena Medio. More details on this will be shared later this week.

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