Mongabay: “In Colombia, 106 Indigenous reserves are affected by the presence of oil blocks”

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo: PBI-Colombia observes a wetland with Jani Silva who says oil companies “exploit irresponsibly” and contaminate the environment in Putumayo.

Mongabay has published an article based on extensive analysis by the journalistic alliance ManchadosXelPetróleo, with information gathered by the Amazon Network of Georeferenced Socio-Environmental Information (RAISG).

The study looked at and Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Colombia.

Among the findings:

– “In Colombia, 106 indigenous reserves are affected by the presence of oil blocks, most of them in the departments of Caquetá, Vichada and Putumayo. At least 84 of these reserves have been subsumed entirely within oil blocks.”

– “In Colombia, while no oil blocks overlap with protected areas, the analysis detected a pattern that calls for attention: there are oil blocks in 70 forest reserves. This is important because, under Colombian law, these areas are intended for the development of the forestry economy and the protection of soil, water and wildlife.”

The analysis also found that 49.07 percent of Indigenous communities in Colombia overlap with oil fields. It also found that 79.24 percent of Indigenous communities in Colombia have overlapping oil fields in 100 percent of their territory.

PBI in Putumayo

As noted above, most of the 106 Indigenous reserves affected by the presence of oil blocks are in the departments of Caquetá, Vichada and Putumayo.

PBI-Colombia has noted: “Processes to defend the territory and traditional cultures of small-scale farmers … and indigenous Nasa traditions … are accompanied by the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission (Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz).”

PBI-Colombia has accompanied Justice and Peace since 1994.

On April 6, Justice and Peace posted: “The Canadian company Gran Tierra Energy has ignored the territorial autonomy of the Cabildo Ksxa ́w Nasa that lives between the municipalities of Puerto Asís and Puerto Caicedo, Putumayo.”

And on May 31, 2021, they also issued this statement that documents the killing of campesino Yordan Rosero Estrella and the wounding of Victor Campo, an Indigenous Nasa leader, during a protest against Gran Tierra in Putumayo.

For more on Gran Tierra in Villagarzón, Putumayo, see the June 2022 Mongabay article: How Colombia disenfranchised Indigenous Inga communities in favor of oil.

The Justice and Peace Commission also accompanies Jani Silva.

Silva, the president of the Association for the Integral Sustainable Development of the Perla Amazónica (ADISPA), has stated that oil companies “exploit irresponsibly” and contaminate the environment in Putumayo.

PBI with Jani Silva.

ADISPA manages the Perla Amazónica Peasant Reserve Zone (ZRCPA). Nearly 800 families live in the 24 villages that make up the ZRCPA. While there are no Nasa people in the ZRCPA, Nasa people are near this peasant reserve.

Canadian extractivism in Putumayo

Along with Gran Tierra Energy, that describes itself as the “premier operator and top landholder” in the Putumayo basin, Toronto-based Frontera Energy holds assets in the Caguán-Putumayo basin as has Calgary-based Canacol Energy Ltd.

Natural Resources Canada has also reported that at $8 billion in 2018, Colombia was second largest location for Canadian Energy Assets Abroad (CEAA).

GeoPark in the Amazon

Andrew Miller of Amazon Watch has highlighted: “The Amazon Pearl is not the only area threatened by efforts to expand oil operations across the Colombian Amazon.”

He adds: “Through its acquisition of the oil company Amerisur, GeoPark now controls a number of different oil blocks that overlap Indigenous territories of the Siona, Kofán, and Kichwa Indigenous peoples.”

In November 2019, GeoPark announced it had acquired Amerisur for £242 million. The Banking on Climate Chaos website documents that the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) provided USD $13.68 million in financing to GeoPark in 2016.

Amazon Watch Finance and Climate Director Moira Birss, Jani Silva, Amazon Watch Advocacy Director Andrew Miller in Pedregosa within the Perla Amazónica.

Indigenous rights and extractivism

The American business magazine Forbes has reported: “Nearly a third of Colombia is designated indigenous territory… Often, that land sits atop natural riches that have made it the envy of prospectors. Conflicts abound in Colombia between indigenous communities and extractive industries clawing for oil, gold or lumber.”

That December 2019 article also noted: “This year, Colombia’s top weekly news magazine [Semana] reported that 37 petroleum production contracts awarded by the country’s National Hydrocarbon Agency infringed 81 indigenous reserves, another 26 of which were violated by exploration contracts.”

Colombia Plural has also reported that in December 2016, five fracking contracts (four of them for exploration) were signed with Drummond Energy. That article notes: “These new contracts increase the list of affected or affected indigenous territories and overlap with territories of the Yupka, Wiwa and Wayúu peoples.”

The Luis Carlos Perez Lawyers’ Collective (CCALCP) has long sought the implementation of Judgment T-880/2006 of the Constitutional Court of Colombia. This ruling relates to the right to free, prior and informed consent, specifically in regard to the Indigenous community Barí-Motilón in the Catatumbo region vs the state oil company Ecopetrol.

PBI-Colombia with CCALCP lawyer Julia Figueroa.

We continue to follow this.

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