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Ambassador Tim Martin

Canadian Embassy in Colombia,

Apartado Aéreo 110067

Bogotá, Colombia

(011 57 1) 657 9912

Canada, October 7th 2011


Subject: Support for the Humanitarian Convoy to Puerto Gaitan and Campo Rubiales (October 10 to 14, 2011)


Following numerous allegations of human rights violations of the population of Puerto Gaitan (municipality of Villavicencio, Department of the Meta) as well as violations of workers rights in the region (including nearly 13,000 employees subcontracted by the Canadian oil company Pacific Rubiales Energy), we wish to express our support for the Humanitarian Convoy which will be held from October 10 to 14 near Puerto Gaitan to find a solution to the social crisis and the labor conflict currently affecting the communities of this region and the oil workers. (See details of the convoy in the additional information.)


Considering the current labour conflict in which a Canadian company is involved, we turn to you to ask that the Canadian embassy use it's influence to ensure that the humanitarian convoy receive the necessary security conditions to accomplish it's mission from the national authorities and from the Canadian company Pacific Rubiales Energy.


The convoy's goal is to document violations of human, social, environmental and economic rights of indigenous and farming communities and of oil workers in the region of Puerto Gaitan and Campo Rubiales.


Hereby, we show our support to the demands put forward by the convoy, including:


  • The compliance on behalf of the Colombian Government with the UN recommendations on human rights and also with the international conventions and recommendations made by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which have been signed and ratified by Colombia;

  • That emergency measures be taken to overcome the social crisis and the labor dispute affecting the residents and oil workers from Puerto Gaitan;


  • That national sovereignty be respected in the territory of Puerto Gaitan, and, as such, require that the Canadian company Pacific Rubiales Energy not block public roads or impede the exercising of trade union rights as recognized by Colombia.


We also believe it is the duty of the Canadian Embassy to encourage the Canadian company Pacific Rubiales to be present at the negotiating tables in order to assure a peaceful solution to the labour conflict and that the social, economic and environmental requests made by affected communities in the region be recognized. We bring to your attention the fact that, according to public information provided by the Union Sindical Obrera (USO), the Canadian company does not comply with Colombian labour laws nor does it respect trade union rights and freedom of association laws recognized by Colombia hereby rendering it's actions in violation of International Labour Organisation (ILO) treaties.


Given our great concern about human rights violations caused by the intervention of law enforcement in this labor conflict (National Army and National Police), we request that the Canadian Embassy in Colombia inform us of the actions that it will be undertaking to ensure that the Canadian company Pacific Rubiales responds to the numerous social demands of affected communities, to the union demands of its workers, and to ensure that this company respect the labour laws in Columbia


In addition, under the Agreement concerning the annual reports on human rights and free trade between Canada and Colombia, we ask that the Canadian embassy transmit all necessary information regarding this conflict so that it may be represented in the aforementioned report and that this situation be monitored in the context of assessing the impact of free trade agreement on human rights.


Awaiting a response from you regarding these concerns,




Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique de la santé et des services sociaux

Action et solidarité pour la Colombie (ASOCOLOM)

Canadian Union of Postal Workers

Coalition québécoise sur l'impact social et environmental des transnationales en Amérique latine

Committee for Human Rights in Latin America (CDHAL)

Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN)

Conseil central du Montréal métropolitain (CCMM-CSN)

Entraide Missionnaire

Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ)

Justice écologie tendresse (JET) - Soeurs de Saint-Joseph

Mining Watch

Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie (PASC)


Public Service Alliance of Canada

Syndicat de la fonction publique du Québec

Syndicat de l'enseignement du Cégep André-Laurendeau

Syndicat des chargées et chargés de cours de l'Université du Québec à Chicoutimi (SCCCUQAC)

Syndicat des employées et employés de l'UQAM (SEUQAM)

Syndicat des Enseignantes et des Enseignants du Cégep de l'Abtibi-Témiscamingue (SEECAT)

Syndicat des enseignantes et enseignants du Cégep Lionel-Groulx

Syndicat des enseignantes et des enseignants du Cégep de Saint-Félicien

Syndicat des enseignantes et enseignants du Collège Esther-Blondin FNEEQ-CSN

Syndicat des enseignantes et enseignants du Collège de Lévis (SEECL)

Syndicat des enseignantes et enseignants du Collège Shawinigan

Syndicat des professeures et professeurs du Collège Édouard-Montpetit

Syndicat des professeurs du Collège Marie-Victorin

Syndicat des Métallos

Syndicat du personnel enseignant du Cégep de Sherbrooke - CSN


Additional Information


The Humanitarian Convoy


The Convoy is being organized by: Workers' Trade Union (USO), the Single Confederation of Workers of Colombia (CUT), the Colombian union FUNTRAENERGETICA and NGOs and social organizations in Colombia following: Corporación Aury Sara Marrugo, AFL-CIO, FSM , ICEM, ACVC, CREDHOS, PERIODICO DESDE ABAJO, FLCM, CRONOPIOS.


Activities planned as part of the Convoy :


Monday, October 10, 2011: 5:00 am Departure from the Parque Nacional (Bogotá) 2:00 pm Symbolic Act in Villavicencio 5:00 pm Popular Assembly in Puerto Gaitan 7:00 pm Cultural Acts in Puerto Gaitan
Tuesday, October 11, 2011 7:00 am Departure to Campo Rubiales 5:00 pm Arrived at Campo Rubiales 6:00 pm Meeting with oil workers
Wednesday, October 12, 2011 Social and cultural activities, Campo Rubiales
Thursday, October 13, 2011 from 5:00 am to 4:00 pm Day of work with employees of different companies 6:00 pm Closing ceremony
Friday, October 14, 2011 Return to Bogota and Public Report from the members of the Convoy.




Puerto Gaitan is located in the city of Villavicencio, capital of Meta department, the principal region for oil production in Colombia. Three foreign companies are present in the area including the Canadian Pacific Rubiales Energy, registered on the Toronto Stock Exchange and headquartered in Toronto, Canada. This Canadian company operates the oil fields "Campo Rubiales" and "Quifa" (Puerto Gaitán), in association with Ecopetrol, where approximately 13,000 employees work. These employees have no job stability, are subjected to up to 18 hours of work a day for up to 40 days without a day off (when the regulations governing the oil industry provides seven day off for 21 working days), and only receive one quarter of the wage rate of oil workers in Colombia. In addition, the use of subcontracting prevents unionization of workers.

The oil industry is the main source of income in the region and for six years now the inhabitants of Puerto Gaitan have been demanding that their requests be considered regarding environmental impacts (reduction of ecological damage due to oil), social impacts (local hiring standards, infrastructure investments, etc.) and working conditions (compliance with Colombian labor law, union rights, etc.).

The labor conflict escalated recently when 1100 employees, subcontractors for the Spanish oil company Cepcolsa (June 20th, 2011) and 6000 employees, subcontractors for the Canadian oil company Pacific Rubiales (July 18th , 2011) declared themselves in "Permanent Assembly" to mobilize local communities and workers concerning their social and union demands. The workers requested the National Union of Petroleum Workers: Union Sindical Obrera (USO) represent them before the companies.

Despite signing an agreement between USO and the national government to establish the negotiating table, the peaceful demonstrations of workers and residents were violently repressed, leaving about fifty wounded. The oil companies have fired more than 500 employees suspected of union activities and union leaders in the region have received death threats.

September 20, 2011 the national government ordered the Army and National Police to disperse the movement by force. Note that the civil mobilisation included children and the elderly. The Army and National Police nevertheless used stun grenades modified with shrapnel, tear gas and rubber bullets (which projectiles were launched by staff on the ground near the demonstrators but also by helicopters flying over demonstrations). The Canadian oil company Pacific Rubiales has since blocked the public road between the town of Puerto Gaitan and the oil fields of "Campo Rubiales", preventing the free circulation of people within their own territory.


This release of public support for the Humanitarian Convoy in Puerto Gaitan is sent with a copy to:


Angelino Garzón

Vicepresidente de la República de Colombia

Carrera 8 No.7-57 Bogotá D.C.

Fax: (57 1) 596 0651



Wolmar Antonio Perez Ortiz

Defensor del Pueblo

Fax: (+571) 640.04.91



Dário Vásquez Sánchez

Gobernador del Meta

Carrera 33 No. 38 - 45 Plazoleta Los Libertadores Barrio Centro, Villavicencio, Meta

Tel (+57) 8 671 80 80

E-mail :,


Eduardo González Pardo

Defensor regional del Pueblo, Departamento del Meta

Carrera 40 A No.33-17 Barrio Barzal alto (Villavicencio - Meta)
Tel (57) (8) 6610666 - 6610472

E-mail :


Pacific Rubiales Energy

Board of Directors

333 Bay Street, Suite 1100 Toronto, Toronto. Canada M5H 2R2

Tel (416) 362-7735 Fax: (416) 360-7783

E-mail :,

Carolina Escobar

Investor Relations, Colombia, Pacific Rubiales Energy

Carrera 11A No. 94-45, Torre OXO, Piso 9, Bogotá D.C. Colombia
Tel (57) 1 756-0080 , Fax (57) 1 756-0203


Javier Gutierrez

Presidente de Ecopetrol

Bogotá D.C. Edificio Principal Cr 13 No. 36 - 24

Tel (57+1)2344000 Fax (57+1)2344099

E-mail :


Christian Salazar and Catherine Pedreros

Oficina de la Alta Comisionada de Naciones Unidas para los derechos Humanos

Calle 114 No. 9-45 Torre B Oficina 1101
Edificio Teleport Bussines Park – Bogotá, Colombia

E-mail :,,


Marcelo Castro Fox

Representante Permanente de la OIT en Colombia

Av. 82. No. 12-18. Oficina: 504. Telefono: 623 75 86. Bogotá D.C.