Death threats by paramilitaries against environmental defenders opposed to fracking in Santander, Colombia

Published by Brent Patterson on

CREDHOS has denounced the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) threatening several environmental leaders from Puerto Wilches who are legally represented by CREDHOS including Yuvelis Morales and Carolina Agon. Photo by Don Jumento.

On April 8, Caracol Radio reported: “The Investigation and Accusation Unit [UIA] of the JEP [Special Jurisdiction for Peace] warned of the increase in death threats against environmental leaders in [the department/province of] Santander.”

The article adds: “Most of the threats against environmental leaders are attributed to paramilitary successor groups, such as the Clan del Golfo [also known as the Gaitanist Self-Defense Forces of Colombia/AGC] and the Black Eagles.”

The JEP says that since the singing of the Peace Agreement in 2016: “Santander was constituted in the department of the country where the largest number of death threats have been made against people who exercise an environmental leadership role.”

Giovanni Álvarez Santoyo, director of the UIA, further comments: “This phenomenon of intimidation constitutes a breach of the guarantees of non-repetition, since different social organizations in the department of Santander have submitted reports to the JEP where they document facts of victimization of trade unionists, environmental leaders and citizens who publicly opposed the environmental impact of the extractive industry in Santander.”

The Caracol Radio article further notes: “These threats have been registered mainly in the municipalities of Barrancabermeja, Puerto Wilches and Puerto Parra.”

“In Barrancabermeja, the Regional Corporation for the Defense of Human Rights. CREDHOS has drawn attention to the intimidation against Óscar Sampayo, an environmental leader who has constantly denounced the negative consequences of the extractive projects currently being carried out in Magdalena Medio.”

The article also highlights that Afro-Colombian anti-fracking activist Yuvelis Natalia Morales had to leave Colombia because she has received constant threats.

It further notes: “According to the JEP, in the last 18 months there has been a substantial increase in death threats against human rights defenders in Santander. In Barrancabermeja, for example, 22 cases were reported [and] 9 in Puerto Wilches.”

PBI webinar, May 8

Among the environmental defenders in the Santander region who have been threatened are Carolina Agón (vice president of the Federation of Fishermen of Puerto Wilches, and member of CREDHOS) and Yuvelis Morales (of Aguawil, accompanied by CREDHOS). Both women have spoken against the fracking pilot projects near Puerto Wilches.

Carolina and Yuvelis will both be speaking at the webinar. They will speak alongside Bronwen Tucker, the Edmonton-based Global Public Finance Campaign Co-Manager with Oil Change International. Her organization was part of this recent ‘Banking on Climate Chaos’ study that notes Scotiabank has provided financing to Ecopetrol, the Colombian oil company that would operate the fracking pilot projects.

To register for this webinar, please click here.

Categories: News Updates

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