Police assault CREDHOS members conducting verification of eviction of 350 families by ESMAD riot police near Ecopetrol site

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On Friday July 23, the Regional Corporation for the Defence of Human Rights (CREDHOS) tweeted: “Police attack a communicator of the Corporation and his lawyers who today July 23 at 11:15 am, were conducting verification of the eviction carried out to 350 homeless families in a human settlement in the village of El Llanito de Barrancabermeja.”

CREDHOS also tweeted this video and noted: “In the middle of the procedure, the Commander of the police station Captain Luis Carlos De Ávila Turizo assaults members of CREDHOS, preventing their passage, while holding stones in his left hand. Violating freedom of the press and verification of the procedure.”

Blu Radio reports: “The NGO Credhos denounced in the last hours alleged aggression by policemen to delegates of the human rights organization.”

That article also provides the context of a blockade against the state petroleum company Ecopetrol in the Y sector of the township of El Llanito in Barrancabermeja.

Now, Caracol Radio adds: “The protests in the Y sector in El Llanito have been going on for more than 48 hours [since July 23], where the community is protesting and preventing the passage through land, after Ecopetrol wanted to recover the La Reforma and Siberia properties. The blockade continues in the Y sector with more than 200 people.”

Radio Nacional notes: “The communities in the area say that there was excessive force on the part of the ESMAD [riot police] during the eviction operation.”

Vanguardia reports: “ESMAD used tear gas, which caused concern, given the presence of the state oil company’s pipeline very close to the site of the clashes.”

Nidia Avila, social leader of El Llanito, says: “Here they did not respect that there are women, children and seniors, 350 families of fishermen and ponders who need that housing.” She asked that the conflict be resolved through dialogue, not force.

Jorge Fernández, another social leader in El Llanito, says: “There was a clash with the community, since people have taken these properties due to the lack of housing, since there is no real project between Ecopetrol and the District that favors them.”

The company says the lands were illegally invaded at the beginning of July and that since the evictions by the police began there have been acts of violence, sabotage and vandalism against the oil infrastructure, including electrical connections to 15 wells being cut and 6 wells shut down without authorization.

Infobae reports: “Ecopetrol called on the competent authorities to protect public goods and guarantee normality in the oil operation, which they called ‘of public utility’. Likewise, they requested them to carry out the necessary investigations to locate those responsible for these illegal actions.”

PBI-Colombia has accompanied CREDHOS since 1994.

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