PBI-Colombia accompanied CSPP and social leaders raise concerns about Frontera Energy with shareholders

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo: Oscar Ramirez, Ferney Salcedo, Gustavo Torres.

As Calgary-based Frontera Energy holds its virtual annual meeting of shareholders on May 18, three Colombian human rights defenders are raising concerns about the company’s operations in San Luis de Palenque and Orocué, Casanare.

Their short videos (spoken in Spanish with English subtitles) can be seen here:

Click to watch Video 1

Click to watch Video 2 

Click to watch Video 3 

For context on the third video, Troachando Sin Fronteras has reported: “On Thursday, February 14, 2019, in the municipality of Yopal Casanare, its inhabitants and communities from other municipalities held three marches along the main roads, for the defense of water, the environment and the rejection of the judicialization of social leaders. …The marchers in the municipality of Yopal were joined by the population of Orocue, reaffirming their rejection of the environmental damage caused by the oil company Frontera Energy, in the Matemarrano estuary. Gustavo Torres, environmental leader from Orocue, Casanare, said, ‘The right to water is a fundamental right that is enshrined in human rights.’ He explained that the environmental problem in the municipality is serious: ‘Seismic events were made within an estuary rich in flora and fauna, and from where several water tributaries are born.’”

Background from UN Special Rapporteur Michel Forst report

Following his visit to Colombia in 2019, then-UN Special Rapporteur Michel Forst wrote in this report to the Human Rights Council:

  1. In the context of efforts to defend land and environmental rights, at least 202 defenders have been prosecuted since 2012. By way of example, during the Special Rapporteur’s visit, eight leaders from San Luis de Palenque were arrested and accused of collusion to commit an offence, violence against a public servant and obstructing a public road, and two of them with attempted homicide in connection with their participation in and leadership of the social protests between 2016 and 2018 in response to the failure of Canadian public company Frontera Energy to fulfil its obligation to compensate communities affected by environmental damage and to repair damaged roads. These human rights defenders remain deprived of their liberty, three of them in prison and five on house arrest.
  2. The Special Rapporteur is concerned at the apparent connection between Frontera Energy, the army’s 16th brigade and the Attorney General’s Support Office in this criminalization and the possible impact of the agreement between Ecopetrol S.A. and the Attorney General’s Office on the situation. In November 2018, Frontera Energy signed two agreements with the Ministry of Defence for a total of US$ 1,343,106 to secure army protection for its activities. On 4 December 2018, the army and the police accused the aforementioned leaders of being members of “Los Jinetes con Careta”, an illegal armed group whose existence has yet to be recognized by the competent authorities. Furthermore, since 2015, Ecopetrol, the main Colombian hydrocarbon exploitation company, has signed five cooperation agreements with the Attorney General’s Office for a total of US$ 24,698,485 to strengthen the investigative and prosecutorial capacity of the Attorney General’s Support Office to deal – inter alia – with crimes of obstruction of public roads during social protests that affect the functioning of Ecopetrol and/or its associated companies, such as Frontera Energy.

Source: Visit to Colombia, 26 December 2019, page 9.

News articles 

This situation has also been reported on (in Spanish) in various news articles. A partial compilation of those articles (presented chronologically) can be found below:

Frontera Energy suspendió las actividades en el Bloque Cubiro, Violeta Stereo FM Casanare, February 6, 2018

Protestas en San Luis de Palenque, en medio de agresiones de la Policía Militar, Trochando sin fronteras, February 27, 2018

Vuelve y juega: comunidad de San Luis de Palenque volverá a las protestas contra Frontera Energy, Violeta Stereo FM Casanare, April 24, 2018

Hoy se realizaría las audiencias a líder social Ferney Salcedo y otros siete capturados en San Luis de Palenque, Violeta Stereo FM Casanare, November 28, 2018

Familia de líder social judicializado Ferney Salcedo afronta difícil situación, Prensa Libre Casanare, January 24, 2019

Los convenios del Ministerio de Defensa en un caso contra líderes sociales en Casanare, El Espectador, September 15, 2019

Denuncian al Estado Colombiano por detención arbitraria de 8 líderes ambientales ante la ONU, Defender la Libertad, September 16, 2019

Caso San Luis de Palenque: Comunidades, movilización, empresas petroleras y judicialización, Trochando Sin Fronteras, September 17, 2019

Caso San Luis de Palenque: Fiscalía, Fuerza Pública y empresas, una alianza criminal, Redacción Trochand, September 21, 2019

Guerra jurídica y falsos positivos en Casanare: el precio de la protesta social en Colombia, AraInfo, October 11, 2019

Esta es la situación de los ocho líderes ambientales judicializados en Casanare, Colombia Informa, October 31, 2019

Líder social Ferney Salcedo afronta un juicio sin equilibrio: Jorge Cortés, abogado defensor, Radio Noticias de Casanare, March 4, 2020

En libertad 2 de los líderes de San Luis de Palenque, que estaban detenidos por protesta contra petrolera, La Reporteria, August 11, 2020

Líderes sociales de San Luis de Palenque, Casanare, serán libres, pese a la Fiscalía, Frontera Energy y Ecopetrol, Martha Cifuentes, September 16, 2020


La disputa legal entre una comunidad y una petrolera en el corazón del Casanare, El Espectador, November 10, 2022

PBI-Canada visit to San Luis de Palenque

On July 1, 2022, PBI-Canada visited with the social leaders in San Luis de Palenque to hear their testimonies of their experiences with Frontera Energy.


On October 11, 2022, PBI-Canada and PBI-Colombia collaborated on a webinar featuring Ferney Salcedo and Yulivel Leal, as well as Reymundo Velasquez from the Committee of Solidarity with Political Prisoners (CSPP) and Ninfa Cruz from the Social Corporation for Community Advice and Training (COSPACC).

To watch the webinar in original English/Spanish audio, click here.

Key excerpts from the webinar can be read at PBI-Canada webinar: Frontera Energy vs San Luis de Palenque, Colombia (October 11, 2022).

We continue to follow this situation with concern.

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