Activists arrested urging Gore to help halt U'wa drilling

Eight environmental and human rights activists were arrested today for staging a sit-in at Vice  President Al Gore's presidential campaign   headquarters in Manchester. The protesters want Gore  to use his connections with Occidental Petroleum (Oxy)  to stop the U.S. corporation from drilling on indigenous U'wa lands in Colombia. The groups say Gore holds  about $500,000 in Oxy stock, and has received  campaign contributions from the company.

Since  January 19, at least 500 - and as many as several   thousand - Colombian soldiers have been occupying an  area of the traditional territory to which the U'wa hold  legal title. On Tuesday, the Colombian Army forcibly  evicted dozens of U'wa from their land using  helicopters. Three U'wa people are now reported  missing. 

The U'wa gained international attention in 1996 when  they vowed to commit collective suicide if the Samoré  Block oil drilling project is not halted. "We prefer  genocide at the hands of the Colombian government  over relinquishing our Mother Earth to the oil  companies," stated a U'wa communiqué. U'wa leaders  have vowed to continue their nonviolent protests   against Oxy' s efforts to drill on their land. "Gore can  make the difference. He can save the U'wa and avert a  public relations disaster for himself by intervening  now," said Atossa Soltani of Amazon Watch. Dozens of   activists from Action for Community and Ecology in the  Rainforests of Central America (ACERCA), Amazon  Watch, Native Forest Network, Rainforest Action   Network and international trade coalitions from  Vermont and Boston participated in today's protests. 

Additional protests are planned at future Gore  campaign stops. More information is available at: and   

Source: Environment  AmeriScan: January 26, 2000

ACERCA  Action for Community & Ecology in the Rainforests of Central America  POB 57  Burlington, VT 05402 USA  (802)863-0571   (802) 864-8203 Fax  Email:  

ACERCA is a project of the Alliance for Global Justice  and a member of the Native Forest Network