Pacific Exploration/ Frontera Energy in Meta and Casanare, Colombia

Published by Brent Patterson on

The Campo Rubiales oil field, in Puerto Gaitán, Meta, Colombia, was operated by the Canadian oil company Pacific Rubiales Energy in association with Ecopetrol.

Rutas del Conflicto has reported: “A notice at the entrance to the Rubiales-Piriri and Quifa oil complex noted that visitors were entering a piece of Canada in Colombia.”

A Canadian Labour Congress media release has stated: “In 2011, Colombian unions report Pacific Rubiales dismissed 1,100 workers for trying to unionize to address issues like health and safety. There are also reports of Colombia’s anti-riot police (ESMAD) being used to intimidate workers and violently suppress pro-union gatherings.”

This report co-authored by the Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project accompanied José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers’ Collective (CCAJAR) also documents violations of labour rights and union rights; the distortion of the prior consultation process and the social disarticulation of Indigenous Peoples; environmental impacts and land issues; and criminalization, an imbalanced justice system, and abuses at the hands of security providers.

The report states: “An increase in social, labor, environmental, and trade union conflicts between oil companies, local communities, and industry employees in Puerto Gaitan has coincided with a phenomenon in which individuals involved in social protest have increasingly become the subjects of criminal proceedings. Scenarios were documented in which illegal persecution and an excessive use of force have been employed by state and private agents, especially targeting trade union leaders, human rights defenders, and others who organize protests in response to labor conditions, environmental mismanagement, contracting models, and the social investment policies implemented by private companies.”

And the report cautions: “This is a worrying situation, especially when one takes into consideration the existence of Cooperation Agreements between the companies (Ecopetrol and Pacific) and the Colombian Prosecutor General’s Office, the National Police or diverse units within the armed forces.”

Webinar, October 11

This webinar will feature social leaders Ferney Salcedo, Yulivel Leal, Ninfa Cruz (the Social Corporation for Community Advice and Training/ COSPACC) and Reymundo Vásquez (the Committee in Solidarity with Political Prisoners/ CSPP).

In August 2015, Pacific Rubiales changed its name to Pacific Exploration and Production and then again in June 2017 to Frontera Energy.

By November 2018, Frontera had signed two agreements with the Ministry of Defence after the community of San Luis de Palenque, Casanare organized protests against the impacts of the company’s Cubiro Block operations.

Days after those agreements were signed, a pre-dawn military operation arrested eight social leaders in San Luis de Palenque.

That lead UN Special Rapporteur Michel Forst to express his concern about “the apparent connection between Frontera Energy, the army’s 16th brigade and the Attorney General’s Support Office in this criminalization.”

To register for this upcoming PBI-organized webinar that will discuss this criminalization, please click here.

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