"We, as the U'wa, continue to be strong in our campaign in defense of life, the environment and national sovereignty. The money king will never change the calling of life itself, the respect for our sacred mother earth that nourishes us at every moment. Without her we cannot eat, drink, and much less breathe. Life itself cannot be bought or sold. Respect for the human rights of Indigenous Peoples is an integral part of the responsibility and obligations of the governments all around the world . . We demand that all petroleum exploration and exploitation projects in our legally recognized U'wa land completely withdraw and be cancelled. Today we begin a new journey in defense of life . . ."
IN THIS POST
1. U'wa Update: OIL COMPANY REINVADES U'WA LAND!!! 2. New York Times: New Role for U.S. in Colombia: Protecting a Vital Oil Pipeline 3. Reuters: Colombia empowers military in two parts of country 4. TAKE ACTION - HELP US ORGANIZE THE NEXT COLOMBIA MOBILIZATION ACTION AGAINST OXY MARCH 24
The historic victory of the U'wa people and their international network of supporters is still fresh in many of our minds. But as with so many of our struggles it continues.
After a 6-month reprieve from oil extraction on their sacred homeland, the U'wa once again face a renewed threat to their lives, land, and culture. In late October, the U'wa reported that machinery had once again begun to arrive to the Gilbralter 1 well site. This is the same site where OXY spent $100 million over ten years to develop an exploratory well which--according to the company--did not yield any financial viable oil reserves. Convinced that oil exists, Ecopetrol, the Colombian state oil company, has moved 40 tractors and heavy drilling equipment to the site, under heavy military protection. Colombian armed forces have lined the local roads every 500 meters between the towns of Saravena and Cubara.
It is unclear at this point whether or not OXY is involved in these new efforts to drill deeper at the Gibralter site. According to Colombian legal documents, the company has relinquished its rights to the Gibralter site, but they may still maintain drilling rights to the rest of the Siriri oil block which falls entirely on U'wa traditional land.
Unfortunately, the Colombia government has used an effective divide and conquer campaign to buy off the campesino organizations in the region--some of the U'wa's strongest allies. The campesinos joined the U'wa in their opposition to the project and helped maintain the occupation and road blocks that for months throughout 1999 and 2000 prevented Oxy from invading U'wa land. Under massive pressure from Ecopetrol, the Colombian government, and the rampant poverty of NE Colombia, the campesinos have signed an agreement to support oil development in return for much needed public projects. This leaves the U'wa as one of the sole remaining voices of resistance, defending the fragile cloud forest ecosystems against the devestation of oil extraction and militarization.
Meanwhile, the situation in Colombia has worsened. The new ultra right government of Alvaro Uribe has been back and forth to Washington lobbying the Bush administration for additional military aid monies. The president has also begun a flagship program of creating a network of civilian informants that will pass information to the security forces about possible insurgent activities. The program is based on a similar one he implemented as a governor that gave rise to the brutal paramilitary armies now responsible for the majority of massacres in the country and still maintains close ties with the military.
President Uribe has announced that he will personally oversee efforts to increase oil investment in the country and the expansion of new oil exploration. He has declared several areas within Colombia as "rehabilitation zones" - a permanent state of emergency with arbitrary arrests, wiretaps, restricted movement of civilian populations. The province of OXY's Cano Limon operations and parts of U'wa ancestral territory are included in the new designation. A team of 100 US Special Forces Soldiers are due to arrive in Colombia in January to begin training the notorious 18th brigade to protect OXY's pipeline.
As the Bush Administration intensifies the global oil war, indigenous peoples and civil society of Colombia are the latest innocent victims who find themselves on the front lines of the escalating "war on terrorism." It is up to us - activists, organizers, people of conscious and hope - to break through the information blockade and let people know the truth of U.S. policy in Colombia and around the world. The truth is that US involvement in Colombia is driven by the same addictions as US military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world : oil. Guns paid for by US tax dollars kill in Colombia so that U.S. corporations can make record profits clogging American highways with SUVs powered by Colombian oil.
Corporate globalization and American militarism are working hand in hand to destroy cultures, devastate ecosystems around the planet and literally undermine the global life support systems. From U'wa land to the arctic wildlife refuge, from Cancer Alley to Love Canal, from Nigeria to Iraq, from the dead rivers of the Ecuadorian Amazon to the ever warming atmosphere above us - oil kills. It's time to stop the madness and break the fossil fuel chain of war and destruction.
As we mobilize to stop the war in Iraq, defend our civil liberties, and stop the racist targeting of Arabs and Arab-Americans, let us remember to tell the U'wa story. The U'wa have always been clear that their struggle is not just about one culture or one remote ecosystem. As they say it is "a global crusade to defend life". Let us follow the U'wa's inspiring lead and say: No more wars for oil! No more corporate rulers who kill for greed and power! We demand life, democracy, justice and a future for the U'wa and all peoples who share our tiny planet.
The U'wa need our help. They need money. They need solidarity actions. They need international human rights observers. But most of all they need us to tell the American public the truth about what is going on in Colombia. Let your friends and neighbors know that their government is at war in Colombia and that like all the Bush wars its is a war over oil. Whether it's a letter to the editor, a community forum on the links between fossil fuel addiction and war or a protest at your favorite corporate war monger - take action!
Lots of help will be needed organizing for the next Colombia mobilization in March. (See #4 below) Let's get started spreading the word, building the coalitions and drawing the connections. Together with the U'wa and people mobilizing around the world we will stop these corporate oil wars. La lucha sigue!
Global Ecology! Global Democracy! Now!
To be a local contact for the growing movement against the Oil Wars in Colombia and beyond contact : Kevin@amazonwatch.org / 510-419-0617
For background info on the U'wa see : www.uwacolombia.org www.amazonwatch.org www.moles.org
2. New York Times : New Role for U.S. in Colombia: Protecting a Vital Oil Pipeline By JUAN FORERO
SARAVENA, Colombia, Sept. 27 - Casting a wary eye for rebel snipers, Lt. Felipe Z˙˝iga and his counterinsurgency troops slog through the wet fields and patches of jungle here. Their mission has nothing to do with drugs - until now, the defining issue in Colombia for American policy makers - but instead with protecting a pipeline that carries crude to an oil-hungry America.
The 500-mile pipeline, which snakes through eastern Colombia, transporting 100,000 barrels of oil a day for Occidental Petroleum of Los Angeles, is emerging as a new front in the terror war. One of Colombia's most valuable assets, the pipeline has long been vulnerable to bombings by Colombia's guerrilla groups, which along with the country's paramilitary outfits are included on the Bush administration's list of terrorist organizations.
Sometime in the next month, in a significant shift in American policy, United States Special Forces will arrive in Colombia to begin laying the groundwork for the training of Lieutenant Z˙˝iga and his 35-man squad in the finer arts of counterinsurgency. Over the next two years, 10 American helicopters will bolster the Colombian counterinsurgency efforts, and some 4,000 more troops will receive American training, which will begin in earnest in January, Bush administration and American military officials said in interviews in recent days.
The policy shift dovetails with the Bush administration's new, global emphasis on expanding and diversifying the sources of America's oil imports, with an eye to reducing dependence on Middle Eastern oil. That new approach, outlined in the administration's energy report issued last year, is gaining ever more importance with the threat to Persian Gulf oil supplies from the looming war with Iraq.
The $94 million counterinsurgency program is also an important element in the offensive by Colombia's new government against two rebel groups and a paramilitary force that dominate much of the country. Pipeline bombings by the guerrillas cost the government nearly $500 million last year - a blow in a country where oil accounts for 25 percent of revenues. The two main rebel groups, which view Occidental as a symbol of American imperialism, have bombed the pipeline 948 times since the 1980's, while extorting oil royalty payments from local government officials.
The Colombian military has increased security recently, deploying five of the six battalions in the 6,000-man 18th Brigade to pipeline protection, up from just two battalions last year. As a result, the number of bombings has fallen to 30 this year, from 170 the year before, Colombian military officials say. But the goal is to eliminate the bombings altogether, they say, and to accomplish that they need help...
Colombia's new president, ┴lvaro Uribe, also declared Arauca one of two security zones where military commanders can conduct searches without warrants, impose curfews and usurp some powers from local government - measures the United Nations says will erode civil rights.
Bush administration officials have said the reliable production of oil is imperative if Colombia is to have the resources to combat the guerrillas and paramilitaries. But oil is also critical to the national security planning of the United States, which by 2020 will count on imported oil for 62 percent of its oil needs, up from half today.
Much of that new oil will come from the Americas, which already supply the United States with nearly 50 percent of its imported oil. Along with Venezuela and Ecuador, the Andes now provides the United States with more than two million barrels a day, about 20 percent of its imports.
Colombia will never be the sole solution to America's voracious appetite for oil. But the country is known for high-quality oil that is cheap to produce and easy to refine, and is thought to have significant potential reserves that could be rapidly exploited if the guerrillas and paramilitaries could be brought under control.
"We're becoming increasingly dependent on imported oil, therefore the strategic goal of diversification has become more and more important," said Michael Klare, author of "Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict." "The Clinton administration and now the Bush administration have explicitly stated that that one of the regions they have wanted to rely on in the future is the Western Hemisphere."
Many oil analysts say reliance on this region could greatly increase if the major producer, Venezuela, increased its production capacity and if Colombia - which shares many of the same geological features as Venezuela - achieved enough stability to allow widespread exploration.
"We don't really know what's there," said Ed Corr, a former American diplomat in Latin America and an expert on the strategic aspects of petroleum. "But we certainly would be wise in getting the country in such a situation where we can find out."
Washington's shift to counterinsurgency was made possible in July, when Congress rolled back restrictions that had limited American aid to antidrug programs. The drug war continues unabated, but the phasing out of those prohibition has been warmly welcomed by energy companies, which have been pressing for a wider role for the United States to improve the business climate.
"You'll see more interest on the part of more companies," Larry Meriage, spokesman for Occidental, said in an interview. "Given the fact that there is a significant amount of oil there, and the sheer mass of oil that remains under-explored, there is considerable optimism."
Occidental, well-versed in Colombia's troubles by virtue of its two decades here, is close to the Bush administration and has long lobbied for the United States to be more involved in the conflict. According to the Center for Public Integrity in Washington, the company contributed $1.5 million to presidential and Congressional campaigns between 1995 and 2000. Occidental also spent nearly $8.7 million lobbying American officials on Latin America policy, largely regarding Colombia, from 1996 to 2000, according to disclosure forms filed with Congress.
Other oil and energy companies also spent handsomely to influence Colombia policy, with Exxon Mobil Corporation, BP Amoco, the Unocal Corporation, Texaco and Phillips Petroleum spending about $13 million among them on Colombia in the same period.
"We see the oil companies leveraging their influence in Washington to move the United States toward a counterinsurgency policy," said Ted Lewis of Global Exchange, a San Francisco human rights group that closely follows business issues here.
Mr. Meriage counters that not taking strong action here could further weaken Colombia and its neighbors, which are economically dependent on oil. "We have long highlighted these problems," he said. "You see the potential danger of an entire Andean region being destabilized by the problems in Colombia. That's why this is important."
(note from the listowner: in Ecuador, the news media carry frequent stories about United States pressure on Ecuador to get more directly involved in the counterinsurgency campaign in Colombia, which, beyond allowing the US to put a military base in Manta, Ecuador has so far resisted.)
A tour of the Occidental facilities here in Ca˝o Limˇn oil fields underscores the links between the company and Colombia's military. The 300 or so troops stationed here wear patches featuring an oil drilling rig. New motorcycle patrols zip down a network of roads, while antiguerrilla patrols work their way through the jungle. Light tanks and heavily fortified bunkers are strategically positioned along the pipeline to deter attacks. Two military aircraft - a helicopter and a Cessna - patrol the pipeline with gasoline paid for by Occidental, and military helicopters carrying troops on operations often swing by here to fill their fuel tanks. Even the brigade commander, General Lemus, drinks coffee from a mug bearing the Oxy logo.
"This is an island of security that we have here, thanks to the army," said one Occidental official.
The company is now producing nearly twice as much oil as last year at its 212 wells. It has also signed contracts recently with the state oil company to explore three additional blocs covering 9,325 square miles.
3) Reuters Company News - Colombia empowers military in two parts of country Saturday September 21, 5:42 pm ET By Phil Stewart
BOGOTA, Colombia, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Colombian President Alvaro Uribe gave the military broad new powers in two sections of his war- torn nation on Saturday, allowing the armed forces to restrict civilian movement and conduct warrantless searches.
The zones were the first decreed under the authority of a state of emergency Uribe declared after taking office in early August -- when his inauguration ceremony was targeted by rebel mortars that killed 21 people on nearby streets in Bogota.
The government has argued that civil rights must be restricted if it is to come to grips with a 38-year-old guerrilla war and gain control of the half of Colombia's territory in the hands of Marxist guerrillas and far-right paramilitaries. The conflict claims thousands of lives a year.
"The goal is to achieve greater control over citizens (in the zones) and, consequently, avoid infiltration by armed groups ... (which) have been staging tremendous acts of terror and creating instability," Defense Minister Marta Lucia Ramirez told reporters in Bogota.
The "Zones of Rehabilitation and Consolidation" cover just 27 of the country's 1,100 municipalities, including a lawless stretch of Arauca, a northeastern oil-producing province due to receive special U.S. military aid.
The other section covers parts of two neighboring northern provinces - - Bolivar and Sucre.
Ramirez said more zones would be gradually created.
U.S. Green Berets are slated to begin training Colombian soldiers in Arauca next month to protect Colombia's second-largest oil pipeline, operated by U.S.-based Occidental Petroleum Inc (NYSE:OXY - News). The pipeline was bombed 170 times last year by the 5,000-member National Liberation Army and the 17,000-member Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia -- Latin America's oldest and most powerful rebel army.
A military commander will have authority over all public forces within each zone, putting police and the armed forces under a central command. Foreigners will need government permission to enter the new zones, and residents will be issued special identification cards to be carried at all times....
The United States, which has provided more than $1.5 billion in mainly military aid to Colombia in recent years to fight the cocaine trade, is enthusiastically backing Uribe, a 50-year-old lawyer elected on a security platform. Washington brands Colombia's outlawed fighters terrorists, and recently authorized the Colombians to use U.S. military aid directly against outlawed armies and not just the drug trade.
Uribe, who proposes increasing defense spending by a third, or $1 billion, will travel to Washington next week and have a working lunch with President George W. Bush on Wednesday.
4. WHAT YOU CAN DO
******************** Dear Friends of the Colombia Mobilization,
The National Mobilization on Colombia, a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to transform U.S. policy toward Colombia and the Andean region (their mission statement is below) is calling a spring mobilization that will bring together regional actions and/or events that target the corporate raiders of Colombia who promote terror and push war to reap profits. The regional events will be on March 24, 2003 at Coca-Cola in Atlanta (Southeast region), Sikorsky in Connecticut (Northeast region),Monsanto in St. Louis (Midwest region) and Occidental Petroleum in Los Angeles (West Coast region). The week following the mobilization, all participants are encouraged to lobby their representatives in their local districts.
Global Exchange and Amazon Watch, members of the Colombia Mobilization, have decided to head up the search for a regional organizing committee for the West Coast/Southwest area. We need individuals and organizations to join the planning committee to organize the action at Occidental Petroleum Headquarters in Los Angeles. This event/action will not only target Occidental Petroleum; it will expose the links between oil, militarization, trade, U.S. policy and human rights abuses in Colombia.
The organizing committee would be responsible for the following:
PLAN and execute the action in coordination with the 4 other regions consistent with the Colombia Mobilization Statement and tactics RAISE money for the regional action MOBILIZE people for the event SELECT a representative to the Colombia Mobilization's Leadership Team conference calls
We are organizing the West Coast/Southwest Regional Coordinating Committee call for the week of December 2. If you're interested, please respond with an ideal DAY and TIME FRAME which works for you.
Also, please let us know which of these options interest you:
- My organization wants to get involved in the regional coordinating committee for the Spring Colombia Mobilization, we'll be on the call!
- We want to organize a contingent from our area to the Days of Action on March 24th at Occidental Petroleum Headquarters in Los Angeles!
- We don't have time right now but we will get information out to our networks.
- Please send us more information.
_____________________ Contact name, number and e-mail
RESPOND TO: Kevin Koenig of Amazon Watch 510-419-0617 or firstname.lastname@example.org
To read the Colombia Mobilization Mission Statement and principles, go to www.colombiamobilization.org