PBI-Colombia accompanies CREDHOS at meeting with Afro-Colombian fishers in Cantagallo impacted by extractivism

Published by Brent Patterson on

On August 30, PBI-Colombia posted: “Today we accompany @Credhos_Paz to a meeting of legal advice with federations of fishermen in Cantagallo in the south of Bolivar. The title of the meeting was ‘The challenges of black communities in the face of the expansion of mining-energy and agro-industrial extractivism’.”

Cantagallo is situated on the Magdalena River north of Barrancabermeja.

Radio Nacional de Colombia has reported: “For decades, in this small municipality where everyone knows everyone, artisanal fishing was the main source of income for many families, so much so that many of the locals preferred to work in their canoes than go as employees to the oil refineries that came to exploit in the late 50s.”

That article adds: “Cantagallo is called the island among swamps [because of] the dozens of bodies of water that were around it. [But now] many of them have been drying up; the reasons: oil, livestock and pollution, which according to the fishermen is the main reason why the water mirrors are becoming desolate paddocks.”

And in February 2019, the Norwegian Human Rights Fund (FNDH) noted: “CREDHOS is developing a project to provide support to the fishermen of Cantagallo to claim their rights. The fishermen are part of the Afro-descendant Federation of Fishermen (FAP) of this municipality and have tried for more than two years to denounce, without success, the damages that a businessman, owner of a farm in the area, has caused after open a channel between the Cimitarra River and the Pajaral swamp [just west of Cantagallo].”

“During the visit, Halvard Hjermundrud from the FNDH met with the fishermen and they told him how they sought out CREDHOS to provide them with legal advice and political and humanitarian support in the face of this problem.”

“Thanks to the support of the FNDH, CREDHOS has initiated a series of actions so that not only the Fishermen’s Federation, but also Cantagallo can benefit from claims for economic, social and environmental damages caused in the area.”

“It is expected that these legal actions will be complemented with the support that the municipality will receive after being a priority municipality in the Development Plans with a Territorial Approach (PDET),  [a provision on comprehensive rural reform intended to benefit Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities in] the 2016 peace accords.”

That article adds: “The fishermen hope that CREDHOS will be able to offer them organizational and legal support in this process.”

In November 2020, Contagio Radio reported: “Dozens of people decided to peacefully take over the facilities of Ecopetrol in the municipality of Cantagallo after ‘the repeated breaches by the National Government to the agreements signed with the communities in past strikes and the lack of social investment by Ecopetrol and the administrative authorities of the national order, departmental and local.’” Concerns were also raised about the sale or privatization of parts of the state-owned company.

PBI-Colombia has accompanied CREDHOS since 1994.

“The workshop was held in the Municipality of Cantagallo Sur de Bolívar: ‘The challenges of black communities in the face of the expansion of mining-energy and agro-industrial extractivism.’ With the Afro-Colombian Federation of Artisanal Fishermen of the Municipality of Cantagallo.”

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