URGENT ACTION – COLOMBIA - A CALL TO SOLIDARITY - ORGANIZATIONS SUMMONED TO THE POLITICAL AND ETHICAL TRIAL ON PILLAGE IN COLOMBIA – AUGUST 16-18 2013, BOGOTÁ
In accordance with the practice of "Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal", non-governmental in character, modeled on courts of public opinion, and in accordance with the demands of the Peace Congress1, various social organizations and human rights defenders converged between June and July of 2013. These three public hearings brought together evidence of audio and video testimonies against various multinational companies2 that operate in Colombia3. They will now be presented in an ethical and political trial against these accused, and convened during the 16th and 18th of August in the city of Bogotá.
During the trial multinational companies will be judged for their responsibility in stripping natural resources, contaminating and destroying the environment, forcibly displacing indigenous and small-scale farming communities, violating human rights, and destroying social, economic and labor conditions.
The previous oil trial was held on the 13th of July, the “Petrolera”, in the department of Meta, municipality of Puerto Gaitan, where Canadian oil company Pacific Rubiales Energy, one of the multinationals present at the recent trial, was present. After the trial, which was covered by various media outlets4, a series of incidents occurred, which put at risk not only witnesses and organizers, but the Friendship and Solidarity Network (in Spanish, Red de Hermandad, REDHER), an entity that groups Colombian and international organizations, and the Colombian Oil workers’ Union (in Spanish Unión Sindical Obrera, USO).
The incidents denounced here include: direct threats against the family of one of the witnesses at the Petrola trial, public threats for denouncements against the Canadian company made by the USO, possible cyber attacks, and a robbery in the “Corporation House”, the principle location of the REDHER in Bogota. (details below).
It is important to mention that during these dates a Canadian delegation, consisting of representatives from social organizations, union organizers, and deputy Amir Khadir from the Quebec Solidarity Party, was at the house of the REDHER (as organizer of the delegation). The group had met with Colombian authorities, and held a press conference in which they had publically denounced the behavior of the Canadian oil company Pacific Rubiales, based on testimony collected and heard during the oil trial that they had attended.
Due to these reasons, we ask for your solidarity and immediate assistance with the following actions:
- Directly call, fax, or send an email to corresponding Colombian authorities requesting that they investigate what occurred after the Oil Trial in the Puerto Gaitán, and demand justice not only for those who have denounced these acts, but also for organizers (see summary in attached sample letter as well as specific requests for each of the authorities)
- Support the objectives of the Ethical and Political Trial on Exploitation and the work of participating organizations, such as the Friendship and Solidarity Network (REDHER), by means of public letters from media outlets both globally and within Colombia.
- Assist economically to help replace stolen material. Contact email@example.com or the equivalent network in your own country.
- Sign the Avazz petition online, by accessing the link: http://www.avaaz.org/es/petiti/Garantias_para_las_organizaciones_colombianas_que_realizen_el_Juicio_Etico_y_Politica_al_Despojo_Pacificnoescolombia/?copy
- Letters should be mailed to the following authorities, as well as copied to the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
TO THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT:
Carrera 9a. No. 14-10 - Bogotá, D.C.
PBX (+57) 444 31 00 Ext. 1820
JUAN MANUEL SANTOS CALDERÓN
President of the Republic
Carrera 8 No. 7 -26
Palacio de Nariño Bogotá
Fax. 5662071 Fax: (+57 1) 566.20.71
Vicepresident of the Republic
Carrera 8 No.7-57 Bogotá D.C.
Attorney General of the Nation
Diagonal 22B No. 52-01 - Bogotá, D.C.
Teléfonos: 570 20 00 - 414 90 00
1. That these acts be investigated, in the context of the Petrolera trial that occurred the past 13th of July in the municipality of Puerto Gaitán, Meta Department – Colombia, in that social/environmental organizations, human rights defenders, and various public testifiers, were able to witness a series of denunciations against the activities that the Canadian oil company Pacific Rubiales Energy… activities which had been presented from 2011 and that are against the rights of the communities nearby and the factories of oil extraction, such that it is against the rights of the workers and contractors of even this multinational.
2. We ask that those who are responsible for the threats and robbery at the headquarters of the REDHER be judged and punished.
3. We ask that the physical and psychological security of those affected, threatened for their participation in the Oil trial be guaranteed.
4. We ask that the freedom to participate in union activities of the Labor Union Organization (USO), be guaranteed.
5. We ask that the work of organizers of the Ethical and Political Trial Against Pillaging be protected.
TO THE NATIONAL PROTECTION UNIT OF THE INTERIOR MINISTRY OF COLOMBIA
National Protection Unit
Avenida Calle 26 No. 59-41/65 Bogotá D.C.
Telefono : (571) 4269800 Ext 9407
• We ask that Mr. Héctor Sánchez and his family immediately be granted protection measures as requested by Mr. Sanchez.
• We ask that members of the Union Labor Organization (USO) be granted requested protection measures so that they may be permitted to reopen their union office in the municipality of Puerto Gaitan.
TO THE CANADIAN COMPANY OF PACIFIC RUBIALES ENERGY
LEONARDO GARCÍA SUÁREZ,
Gerente de asuntos estratégicos
Oficina en Colombia : Calle 110 No. 9-25 Torre Empresarial Pacific Bogotá D.C.
Telefonos: PBX: +57 1 5112000 Fax: +57 1 7451001
email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com , media@Pacificrubiales.com.co
- We request that the right of free association in the oil fields of Puerto Gaitán be respected, and that the work of the Colombian Oil Workers’ Union - USO, is considered as much a part of the Canadian Pacific Rubiales Energy company as any of the company subcontractors which are similarly employed there.
TO THE UTEN
SINDICATE ALEX IVÁN ORTIZ
Director of the Unión de Trabajadores de la Industria Eléctrica, UTEN
Carrera 7C # 108ª19 Barrio Santa Ana
Telefonos: (57-1) 7557193
- We ask that the work of the USO be respected in the region of Puerto Gaitán, and that all types of threatening gestures, defamation, and threats against the union and their members be avoided.
TO THE CANADIAN GOVERNMENT
Ambassador of Canada to Colombia
Tel. (57-1) 657-9859. Fax. (57-1) 657-9915
Ministerio de los Asuntos exteriores de Canada
- We ask that all labor, environmental, and human rights, such as outlined in national laws as well as international conventions, and which direct the operations of Canadian companies in Colombia, be respected.
Tuesday July 16: "Our profound condolences for the loss of your wife and son"
Hector Sanchez was a local leader who had organized community meetings leading up to the Trial against Pacific Rubiales. Just two days after the trial in Puerto Gaitan had finished, unknown people entered the home of Hector Sanchez at night, leaving, on top of his dinner table, elaborately spelled with newspaper letters, the following death threat:
"Rest in peace. Juan David and your wife. We know every step you take with your family. It's good that you are looking for help, but know it won't be of use. We know that you are going to work. Don’t ask for a foolish death for yourself, your wife or your son. Our condolences would rest heavily for your loss of wife and son. Don’t leave behind a son without a father, and a widow. You surely don't want to become a widow yourself"
Precedents and denunciations to these threats on June 21 and 24 of 2013 : http://cspresospoliticos.com/index.php/joomla-stuff-mainmenu-26/news-ma…
Wednesday July 17: "We are going to pass the offensive against the Colombian oil workers’ Union (USO)"
Alex Iván Ortiz, director of the Electric Industry Workers’ Union (in Spanish UTEN), union worker who seeks to displace the Colombian oil workers union (USO) from activities in the oil company, used various media outlets to speak in defense of the activities of Pacific Rubiales and announce their good relations.
The W Radio, a well-known radio station, which publically supports Pacific Rubiales, by referencing national and international denouncements against the multinational, directly warned the Colombian Oil Workers’ Union, by announcing, “We are tired of our calm actions; we are going to bring the offensive against the Colombian oil workers’ Union (USO)”.
Considering the history of disappearance and the assassination of members of the Colombian Oil Workers’ Union, and given the current context of harassment, these threats should be taken seriously.
Friday July 19: Webpages of many organizations go "Out of service"
On Friday, shortly after the website of the Colombian Agency Report shared special information on the denunciations against Pacific Rubiales as documented in Puerto Gaitán, it went out of service, blocking access to all information.
The same occurred with other pages that shared the similar internet servers, among those, the Peoples’ Congress, a space of convergence for social movements and unions that promoted the Ethical and Political trial and the Committee for Solidarity with Political Prisoners in Colombia, which also collaborated in spreading the information.
Similarily, the web page of the Canadian NGO, the Committee for Human Rights in Latin America, present during the trial, experienced inexplicable technical problems also assumed to be a cyber attack, and since the 19th of July, have been blocked all access. The last news they were capable of publishing on the website announced their participation in the Petrolera Trial.
Saturday July 20: Assault at headquarters of the Friendship and Solidarity Network (REDHER)
On the 20th of July, the headquarters of the REDHER, responsible for organizing the Petrolera Trial in Puerto Gaitán, was assaulted.
At sunrise on Saturday July 20th, unknown assailants broke into the REDHER office without forcing open the locks. From there they confiscated 4 desktop computers, 3 laptops, a scanner, and a photography camera of the organization.
Also stolen were personal objects including: 2 staplers, 2 laptops, and a photography camera belonging to Argentinian delegate Frente Dario Santillan, and a Canadian delegate from the Human Rights Committee for Human Rights, who were sleeping in the office at the moment of entry.
The stolen material was used to document the Oil Trial in Puerto Giatán and contained documented evidence presented at the event.
RED DE HERMANDAD Y SOLIDARIDAD CON COLOMBIA (REDHER), UNION SINDICAL OBRERA (USO), MOVIMIENTO POLITICO DE MASAS SOCIAL Y POPULAR DEL CENTRO ORIENTE DE COLOMBIA, ASOCIACIÓN DE AUTORIDADES TRADICIONALES INDÍGENAS UNUMA DE PUERTO GAITÁN (ASOUNUMA), ASOCIACIÓN DE CABILDOS Y AUTORIDADES TRADICIONALES INDIGENAS DE ARAUCA (ASCATIDAR), CORPORACIÓN CHOAPO, CORPORACIÓN SOCIAL PARA LA ASESORÍA Y CAPACITACIÓN COMUNITARIA (COSPACC) , FUNDACIÓN COMITÉ DE SOLIDARIDAD CON LOS PRESOS POLITICOS, FUNDACION DE DERECHOS HUMANOS JOEL SIERRA, CORPORACIÓN AURY SARA MARRUGO, ASOCIACION NACIONAL DE JOVENES Y ESTUDIANTES DE COLOMBIA (ANJECO), ASOCIACIÓN PARA EL MANEJO SOSTENIBLE DEL MEDIO AMBIENTE (AMASOMA), ASOCIACION NACIONAL CAMPESINA JOSE ANTONIO GALAN ZORRO (ASONALCA), PROCESO POPULAR GERMINA, PROYECTO GRAMALOTE, COLECTIVO SOBERANIA Y NATURALEZA .
1Trois Audiences publiques ont été réalisées : La Jagua, Huila, sur le thème hydroélectrique (entreprise EMGESA), San Pedro Frío, Sur de Bolivar sur le thème minier (entreprise ANGLO GOLD ASHANTI), Puerto Gaitan , Meta, sur le thème pétrolier (entreprise PACIFIC RUBIALES ENERGY).
2Réalisé en Colombie au mois d'avril, ayant réunit 20 000 délégués provenant de tout le pays et dont le résultat principal fût la construction d'un mandat populaire pour la paix. http://congresodelospueblos.org/
3Entres autres : El Espectador, Colombia « ONG citó a juicio "ético y político" a Pacific Rubiales », 12 juillet, http://www.elespectador.com/noticias/judicial/ong-cito-juicio-etico-y-p…. Telesur, Venezuela « Diputados canadienses investigan a la petrolera Pacific Rubiales», http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISy5A3H-Hh0. Global News, Canada « Colombian labour union accuses Canada’s Pacific Rubiales Energy of intimidation » http://globalnews.ca/news/729796/colombian-labour-union-accuses-canadas…. Wallstreet Journal Online, United States « Labour leaders participate in hearing against Canadian oil giant in Colombia this week », http://online.wsj.com/article/PR-CO-20130709-909987.html
4Faisent partie de cette délégation les représentants de : Le Groupe d'orientation politique pours les Amériques (GOPA) groupe de travail du Conseil canadien de la coopération internationale (CCCI), le Syndicat canadien des communications, de l'énergie et du papier (SCEP), l'Alliance de la Fonction publique du Canada (AFPC), la Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN), le Syndicat des travailleurs et des travailleuses des postes (STTP), Colombia Action Solidarity Alliance (CASA), Projet Accompagnement et Solidarité Colombie (PASC), et le Comité pour les Droits Humains en Amérique latine – CDHAL.