Residents of Puerto Wilches block land and river access points to fracking pilot project sites

Published by Brent Patterson on

This morning, LA FM Bucaramanga tweeted: “In Puerto Wilches, the communities carry out protests and blockades in different parts of the municipality, in rejection of the decision that gave free rein to the fracking pilot projects.”

BLU Santanderes has also tweeted: “Residents block roads and oil areas in Puerto Wilches, Santander, in protest against fracking projects. Environmentalists took over the dock and prohibit the entry of boats through the Magdalena River.”

And early this morning, the Alliance for a Colombia Free of Fracking tweeted:

“At this time we accompany the communities of Puerto Wilches in the peaceful protest actions that are taking place against the fracking pilots of [Colombian President] @IvanDuque and [the oil company] @ECOPETROL_SA at the land and river access points to their municipality and to oil operations.”

Fracking appears imminent

On May 5, BluRadio quoted Diego Mesa, the Minister of Mines and Energy, saying: “We continue with the intention of having the first drilling on August 7…”

In November 2021, Natural Gas Intelligence reported: “[Ecopetrol] executives expect the pilot projects to come online by 2023.”

And a month later, Diario del Huila reported: “The president of [Ecopetrol], Felipe Bayón, said that although it is estimated that the extractions will begin in 2023, they could be advanced to 2022 if everything goes well.”

Canada finances fracking in Colombia

The Banking on Climate Chaos website reveals Scotiabank’s recent investments in Ecopetrol. The bank provided USD $665 million to Ecopetrol in 2018, another $666.67 million in 2020, and $1.7 billion in 2021 for a total of $3.032 billion.

Bronwen Tucker of Oil Change International also noted on a recent PBI-Canada webinar that the Canadian government’s financing agency Export Development Canada (EDC) provided $300 million to Ecopetrol between 2012 and 2020.

Ecopetrol and paramilitaries

On May 9, Al Jazeera reported: “Local environmental defenders and a representative of the JEP [the Special Jurisdiction for Peace extrajudicial court] told Al Jazeera that they suspected a connection between the paramilitary groups intimidating them and the state-owned Ecopetrol, which is behind the fracking project. The company has been accused of having ties with the Gulf Clan specifically.”

On June 4, El Espectador reported that Dairo Antonio Úsuga David (alias Otoniel), Ecopetrol gave a monthly contribution of 75 million pesos to the Clan del Golfo (AGC) paramilitary in exchange for providing security for two of the company’s wells.

On a PBI-Canada webinar last month, Colombian environmental defenders expressed concerns about the links between Ecopetrol and paramilitaries.

Twenty-one year old Afro-Colombian environmental defender Yuvelis Morales also made this comment about Canada: “When your companies and banks are investing in mining and energy megaprojects in other countries where human rights are being violated every day, you are not an environmentalist country, you are not a green country. I’m sorry to be so blunt. This is a reality that people don’t often want to say because when you open your mouth that could mean you are shot in the forehead.”

More at Colombian environmental defenders express concerns about suspected links between Ecopetrol and paramilitary groups.

We are watching this situation closely.

UPDATES

Alliance tweet: “ALERT: At this time @JairoToquica @MAguilarHurtado @Diego_Molano @DanielPalam @PoliciaDEMAM are preparing to repress the peaceful protest against the fracking pilots in Puerto Wilches. We will denounce any abuse of the public force against the communities.”

CREDHOS tweet: “Credhos accompanying the peasant communities in resistance in Puerto Wilches, the Colombian People tell him #No To Fracking.”

CCAJAR tweet: “It may interest you. Puerto Wilches against Fracking “We Wilchenses mobilize to tell the government and the oil companies that we do not grant them the social license and we will not be laboratory rats to experiment with their fracking pilots.””

PBI-Colombia tweet: “#Today #PuertoWilches says #NoFracking : “We raise our voices for our brothers and sisters from #Afrowilches who were denied their right to prior consultation, for the compañeras who had to be displaced from this municipality to protect their life and integrity before #threats.”

 

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