Global Witness video highlights Colombian environmental defenders Yuli Velásquez and Óscar Sampayo

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On October 6, PBI-Colombia tweeted:

“Colombia is one of the most dangerous countries for the defense of the environment, in a decade 322 environmentalists have been murdered. It is urgent to protect environmentalists like Yuli Velásquez of #Fedepesán and Óscar Sampayo who suffer serious risks for defending water and life in #MagdalenaMedio.”

They shared this 2-minute Global Witness video.

When Yuli participated in a PBI-Canada webinar on April 29, 2021, she said: “We are working hard to stop fracking. Pollution will impact future generations. As fisherpeople we are impacted by water pollution. We can’t allow corporations and contractors to come in and affect the well-being of our communities.”

She added: “We have faced various threats and assassination attempts, but we will continue working and contributing to the protection of the environment.”

We met Yuli in Barrancabermeja on June 29, 2022, at a CREDHOS convened meeting and heard more about the struggle to protect water.

The next morning, June 30, we visited the San Silvestre wetland ecosystem with Yuli and witnessed the impacts of Ecopetrol and large-scale agribusiness (buffalos and palm) on the water, wildlife and livelihoods of artisanal fishers.

Just a few days later, Yuli and her guard experienced an armed attack that left her guard wounded.

Then on July 13, PBI-Colombia accompanied Yuli and CREDHOS at a mobilization in defence of life and the environment.

Canadian financing

We continue to raise the concern about Canadian financing of Ecopetrol – which operates the major oil refinery in Barrancabermeja – in this context of environmental harm, violence and alleged ties between Ecopetrol and paramilitaries.

The Banking on Climate Chaos website reveals Scotiabank’s investments in Ecopetrol. Scotiabank provided USD $665 million to Ecopetrol in 2018, another $666.67 million in 2020, and $1.7 billion in 2021 for a total of $3.0 billion in financing.

Bronwen Tucker of Oil Change International also shared on a PBI-Canada organized webinar this slide of the top recipients of Export Development Canada financing in Colombia between 2012 and 2020.

We continue to closely follow the situation in Barrancabermeja.

Brent Patterson (PBI-Canada), Yuli Velásquez (FEDEPESAN), Javier Garate (PBI-Colombia)

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