On February 28th, the Agua y Agricultura Si, Petróleo y Minería No! (Water and Agriculture yes, Petrolum and mining no!) campaign organised a regional meeting for the water defense in the Sumapaz province. This meeting took place in the Fusagasugá city, in the Cundinamarca department, with the goal of gathering residents from various municipalities located around the Sumapaz páramo and affected by different extractive projects. The idea behind the meeting was to encourage an exchange between the residents of the region concerning their respective situation and their resistance methods in order to articulate their common fight for the protection of the word’s biggest páramo.
A páramo is a unique ecosystem located in the Andes high altitudes. Páramos are home to a diversified fauna and flora. Moreover, they have a fundamental role in the water retention, representing 75% of Colombian water reserves. The Sumapaz páramo is considered as one of the world’s most important fresh water reserve.
Actually, it is more than half of the Colombian territory that is destined to hydrocarbon exploitation and as such, the Sumapaz province is not exempt from this threat. Actually, there are three petroleum exploration projects occurring in the region, out of which two are conducted by Canadian companies: Alange Energy Corp., affiliated to Pacific Rubiales Energy, and Camacol Energy S.A. Colombia.
When State policies and legal tools do not allow the defense of the territory, mobilisation and resistance become the only options available for the population. Two years ago, residents from the town San Bernardo succeeded in stopping temporarily Alange Energy Corp seismic exploration by blocking roads and refusing to grant passage to the company’s vehicles. Nevertheless, an inhabitant of this community deplores that this kind of resistance is not without risk and reminds us of the criminalisation of the social movement and the fact that most legal tools are in favor of the multinationals and allow them to pursue their activities in impunity.
The Agua y Agricultura Si, Petroleo y Mineria No! campaign’s regional meeting has gathered more than one hundred participants and has given back enthusiasm and motivation to activists in order to pursue their struggle. The general idea is clear: if there are many and diverse extractive projects at the same time in the region, the communities must not divide themselves. It is one unified fight against a capitalist neoliberal exploitation system that has to be lead and the union of all forces is indispensable. The campaign brings together students, workers, and residents from the region in order to create support networks, spread field realities, pass along knowledge and stand together against the multinational distorted environmental assessment and legal arguments.
The population affected by the Canadian company Alange Energy Corp COR-33 exploration project has obtained, after a fierce struggle with the local authorities, the establishment of a public hearing. A particular energy will be dedicated to valuing the struggle regarding the defense of the territory during the public hearing that should take place in a near future.