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(en) [EXERPTS] Colombia U'WA Thousands join blockade! March 9th Day of Action

From "Patrick Reinsborough" <rags@ran.org>
Date Fri, 25 Feb 2000 15:01:09 -0500


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THOUSANDS OF COLOMBIANS JOIN U'WA IN RE-BLOCKADING DRILL SITE!
THE U'WA RESISTANCE REMAINS STRONG

INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT NEEDED!

MARCH 9TH INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH THE U'WA
STAND WITH THE U'WA BY TARGETING FIDELITY INVESTMENTS AND VICE PRESIDENT AL
GORE

In the post :
1. Uwa Defense Working Group press release - Feb 25
2. U'wa communique - Feb 21 (ingles y espanol)
3. El Tiempo article - Feb 22 (ingles y espanol)
4. Organize against Fidelity MARCH 9TH!
5. U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney supports the U'wa!
---------------------------------------


#1.
U'WA DEFENSE WORKING GROUP
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 25, 2000

CONTACTS: Lauren Sullivan, 415-398-4404 or Stephen Kretzmann, 510-551-7953
Atossa Soltani, 310-317-7045 or Martin Wagner (415) 627-6700 ext. 216

Thousands of Colombians Resume Blockades Near Planned Oil Well Standoff With
Oxy Escalating
Solidarity March Today In Bogota

Rallying behind the struggle of the U'wa people of Colombia, at least 2,500
people have arrived during the past week in the small community of
Gibraltar, in the department of North Santander. The town is approximately 6
kilometers from the site of the first well planned by Los-Angeles based
Occidental Petroleum (Oxy). The campesinos, students, and union members have
reportedly joined thousands of U'wa and other indigenous peoples in resuming
the blockade of the main road to Oxy's well site.
"They are maintaining the blockade of the road that leads to Pamplona and
are taking shelter in the church, the schools and other sites," said César
Hipólito Mora, the mayor of Cubará, a neighboring town according to
Tuesday's edition of El Tiempo, a Colombian daily.
The secretary of the local Association of Campesinos (ADUC), Reina Rojas,
said from Saravena that it is not a strike, but rather a mobilization which
involves representatives from the different guilds and unions.
"It's something indefinite that will only end with a commitment from the
Government to halt the petroleum exploration in the Samore Block. We ask
that the Ministers of the Environment, Juan Mayr, and of the Interior,
Nestor Humberto Martinez come and endorse this agreement," said Rojas.
Observers in the area report that a heavy military and police contingent in
the area is monitoring the protestors, and has stopped some shipments of
food and medical supplies bound for the U'wa. On February 11, the police
reportedly used tear gas and forcibly removed 450 U'wa who were blockading
the road, resulting in the reported drowning of three indigenous children.
The body of a four month old U’wa girl was found last week. Two other
children, ages 9 and 10, from the Guahibo tribe are still missing and
presumed dead.
Just one week ago, Occidental Petroleum Vice-President Lawrence Meriage
testified before the U.S. Congress in a subcommittee hearing on the Military
aid package to Colombia that "only two groups are intent on blocking the
project … leftist guerrillas… and non-governmental organizations in the US."
Meriage further implied that the U’wa were merely pawns of others.
The U'wa issued a statement responding to Meriage's testimony saying: "We
demand that Occidental Petroleum and those in the media who have called us
guerrilla sympathizers, rectify these accusations immediately, because they
endanger the life of the U'wa community and of those that support us. We
fight to defend our cultural principles which benefit society as a whole,
and not those particular dark interests."
"Clearly, opposition to this project began with the U’wa and support among
Colombians is broad-based and growing" said Atossa Soltani of Amazon Watch.
"Given the widespread protests in Colombia by unions, farmers, students and
indigenous communities, the only responsible course of action is an
immediate suspension of this project pending a negotiated settlement in
which all sides participate."
In Bogota, members of Colombian non-governmental and indigenous
organizations will be holding a solidarity march at 2:00 p.m. today at the
Plaza Simon Bolivar which will culminate in a rally at the Ministry of
Environment. In the United States, supporters of the U'wa continue to target
the two most prominent Oxy shareholders - Fidelity Investments and
Vice-President Al Gore Jr. Over 40 nonviolent demonstrations have taken
place in the last several weeks.
-30-
----------------------------------------
#2 


Association of Traditional U'wa Authorities
Communique to the General Public

As a result of the recent events that have occurred in U'wa territory,
due to the violent military and police intervention, that in past days
took the lives or three of our children and resulted in the disappearance
of five indigenous brothers, demonstrations of solidarity for our
community have continued to grow. This show of solidarity comes from all
sectors of national and international civil society, who without
distinguishing race, color, or politics, have joined in this unequal
struggle against the National Government, the Ministry of the Environment,
the Ministry of Mines and Energy and Occidental Petroleum of Colombia.

This time, support has come from groups in the farming communities of
Arauca, who have added approximately 4,000 people to the 1,200 members
of our indigenous community gathered near the Gibraltar well-site in Toledo,
Norte de Santander.

The purpose of the group gathered there is to vehemently reject the
measures taken by the National Government in favor of OXY, whose plan
seeks to subdue the U'wa culture by spearheading an oil exploration
project on our ancestral territory. Nevertheless and in spite of the many
demonstrations of support coming from all sectors of civil society, the
armed forces and police keep attempting to stop others from joining us in
solidarity to protest Occidental.

Not only have they stopped people from passing through, but they have
also thwarted the passage of vehicles that are transporting food, medicine
and other necessary resources crucial to the wellbeing of the people at
the Gibraltar site.

Because of the above mentioned facts:

 1) We demand that the President of the Republic of Colombia and the
Ministry of Defense, immediately withdraw the army and the police that are
surrounding, abusing, and violating the rights of the U'wa community and
the rest of the civil population that have united with us in non-violent
protest.

 2) We demand that Occidental Petroleum immediately stop all activity on
our ancestral territory, as their presence has unleashed violence against
our brothers, including the deaths of our children and of the American
indigenous rights activists Terence Frietas, Ingrid Washinawatok and Larry
Gay.

 3) We demand that Occidental Petroleum and those in the media who have
called us guerrilla sympathizers, rectify these accusations immediately,
because they endanger the life of the U'wa community and of those that
support us. We fight to defend our cultural principles which benefit
society as a whole, and not those particular dark interests.

We ask that the national and international communities support our cause
which seeks to exercise the social rights of all Colombians.

 Cabildo Mayor U'wa
 Kuirasiru Barrosa (Traditional Authority)
 Cubara, February 21, 2000

 FOR LIFE, FOR MILLENNIAL RIGHTS AND FOR THE RESPECT OF NATIONAL
SOVEREIGNTY, THE U'WA OPPOSE THE MILITARY INTERVENTION IN OUR TERRITORY

*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*	*


#3 (
El Tiempo - February 22, 2000
2,500 People Blockade the Pamplona-Saravena Road
Blockade in Solidarity with the U'wa People
Arauca- Some 2,500 citizens from the Sarare area occupied, since yesterday,
the small North Santander community of Gibraltar, in support of the U'wa
Indians protest against petroleum exploration in the region.
"They are maintaining the blockade of the road that leads to Pamplona (Norte
de Santander) and are taking shelter in the church, the schools and other
sites", said the mayor of the neighboring town of Boyaca, Cubara, Cesar
Hipolito Mora.
According to the public official, the people are sleeping in makeshift beds
made of sticks and plastic.
The secretary of the Association of Campesinos (ADUC), Reina Rojas, said
from Saravena (Arauca), that it is not a strike, but rather a mobilization
which involves representatives from the different guilds and unions.
"It's something undefined that will only end with a committment from the
Government to halt the petroleum exploration in the Samore Block. We ask
that the Ministers of the Environment, Juan Mayrs and of the Interior,
Nestor Humberto Martinez come and endorse this agreement", said the trade
unionist.
The Mayor of Cubara stated that the people have stored food and other
necessities which will allow them to remain there for a good period of time.
In the meantime, the mayor of Saravena (Arauca), Roberto Martin Vera,
indicated that each day that the blockade of the road between Norte de
Santander and Santander continues, the municipality sustains a loss of at
least 100 million pesos.
The conflict began the first of February when close to 450 U'wa blockaded
the same road at the Canoas and Chinita sites, after which they were removed
by the Army from the Cedeno site where the National Government authorized
petroleum exploration by the multinational Occidental.
The 11th of February, anti-riot agents dissolved the blockade of the access
road using tear gas. The indigenous people reported the deaths of three
children and the disappearance of another 11 natives during the procedure in
which two uniformed agents were injured, one of them by an arrow.


-----------------------------------
#4  TAKE ACTION FOR THE U'WA!   NOW AND MARCH 9TH!

	The U'wa resistance remains strong.  Their ongoing blockade of the
drillsite sends a strong message
 that no amount of brutality by the  Colombian government will stop their
efforts to defend their sacred lands.
The people of Northeastern Colombia are showing incredible solidarity with
the U'wa by joining in the
blockade of the drillsite.
	The U'wa have put out the call for international solidarity.  Now all of us
who care about justice,
the environment, human rights and resistance to corporate rule must answer
with action.  Our actions will
show Occidental and all those companies that are willing to profit from the
destruction of  U'wa lands and
 culture that we will not tolerate their attacks on our U'wa brothers and
sisters. An injury to the U'wa people
is an injury to us all!
	The best way to take on Occidental is to target their 2 most important
shareholders - Vice President
Al Gore and Fidelity Investments.  As the U'wa blockade their homelands they
time has come for us to
blockade Fidelity's operations.  Whether its demonstrating at their offices,
leafleting their customers, organizing
 educational events,  or shutting down their operations with non-violent
direct action the U'wa need us all to
organize in our communities.
	In the US find your nearest Fidelity Investor center at :
http://personal400.fidelity.com/gen/centers/invstctr.html.tvsr
Internationally get free  phone numbers to call Fidelity from around the
world at :
http://www100.fidelity.com/about/contact/inter.html
	Send letters of protest to Fidelity's CEO  :
Mr. Edward Johnson III,  Chairman Fidelity Investments
82 Devonshire Street, Boston, MA  02109 USA
fax # =  617-476-4164

	Also keep the pressure on Al Gore.   Activists have been continually
disrupting his campaign
appearances demanding that he address the U'wa issue.  Let's keep it up!
Contact his national campaign
office in Nashville TN at : p) 615-340-2000   or fax)615-340-3295  email :
vicepresident@whitehouse.gov
Tell him that as an major shareholder in Oxy he  has a responsibility to
speak out against Oxy's crimes!

	Updates, factsheets and other campaign materials in a downloadable format
are available at
www.ran.org also www.amazonwatch.org.  To coordinate your local actions with
other supporters and
get hard copies of materials and great stickers  please contact Patrick at
Rainforest Action Network
1-800-989-RAIN or organize@ran.org

---------------------------------------
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