PBI-Colombia highlights threats against CREDHOS and environmentalists in the context of fracking and extractivism

Published by Brent Patterson on

On February 18, PBI-Colombia tweeted: “New article: Death threats persist against environmentalists in Magdalena Medio. Worrying recent threats to @Credhos_Paz [the Regional Corporation for the Defence of Human Rights] and environmentalists, in danger due to extractivism and armed conflict.”

The PBI-Colombia article further explains:

The region of Magdalena Medio, home to 6% of Colombia’s armed conflict victims, has historically suffered serious impacts from the extractivist economic model. Today, once again, its environmental leaders and human rights defenders are under serious threat and at risk of displacement.

For more than a century, communities have been victims of the expropriation of their lands, the expansion of agribusiness and the exploitation of hydrocarbons, severely affecting the region’s diverse fauna and flora within the countless water sources, rivers and marshes.

Oil extraction has caused irreparable environmental damage, and has seriously affected communities’ ancestral fishing economies. Moreover, the enclave economy of the Magdalena Medio region has not generated benefits for the communities that protect it, where communities suffer limited access to clean drinking water and energy services.

Members of CREDHOS and allied organizations such as the Committee for the Defense of Water, Life and Territory (AGUAWIL) and the Federation of Artisanal, Environmental and Tourist Fishermen of Santander (Fedepesán) continue to be exposed to alarmingly high levels of risk.

Environmental organizations in Magdalena Medio, including CREDHOS and other allied organizations, are receiving serious threats in relation to their complaints concerning human rights violations and their opposition to the imminent start of two pilot projects for oil extraction by means of the hydraulic fracturing technique (fracking) in Puerto Wilches (the Kale and Platero projects).

Canadian company welcomes fracking in the Magdalena Medio

In April 2021, Toronto-based Sintana Energy Ltd. welcomed the news of Texas-based ExxonMobil being granted a pilot project contract for Platero/VMM-37, an area of land that ExxonMobil co-owns with Sintana.

Among those who have been recently threatened are CREDHOS Board member Ramón Abril and Yuvelis Morales, a 20-year-old environmental leader with the Committee for the Defense of Water, Life and Territory in Puerto Wilches (AGUAWIL).

Yuvelis spoke on this PBI-Canada organized webinar in April 2021 along with CREDHOS president Ivan Madero, Oscar Sampayo (CRY-GEAM) and Yuli Velasquez (FEDEPESAN) all of whom have spoken against fracking and been threatened.

This concerns were also raised in this May 2021 meeting with Global Affairs Canada and Embassy of Canada in Colombia officials.

Madero also took part in this PBI organized advocacy tour in Canada in November 2020 that included meetings with Global Affairs Canada officials where he highlighted community concerns about fracking in Colombia.

It may be a hopeful sign that on December 6, 2021, Marianick Tremblay, the new Canadian Ambassador to Colombia, tweeted: “Canadian foreign investment must not only be a source of quality capital and work for host countries, but must also contribute to achieving sustainable development goals.”

The sustainable development goals include SDG 16, Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, and SDG 13, Climate Action. The UN links SDG 16 with safety for human rights defenders, while Canadian UN Special Rapporteur David R. Boyd has urged the prohibition of fracking to meet international climate obligations.

We continue to follow this situation closely.

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