Colombia: campesinos block oil operation

Colombia's feared anti-riot force, the ESMAD, used tear-gas June 20 against campesinos occupying lands in the Amazonian department of Caquetá to block oil exploration efforts. Seismic activities are being carried out in the municipalities of Valparaiso and Milan y Morelia by a contractor for firm Emerald Energy. Protest leader José Antonio Saldarriaga said: "We defend our territory, the water and the future for the next generations… It caused us much sadness that 95% has been displaced by violence, and now that we are returning, the multinationals want to displace us for extractive projects." The new blockades come almost a year after three local campesinos were gravely injured in a similar police operation to break up a blockade of seismic exploration workers. UK-based Emerald Energy was purchased by China's Sinochem in 2009. (Contagio Radio, June 21)

The protests in Caquetá also come one year after a devastating oil spill on a trans-Andean pipeline through Nariño department. One year after the 400,000- gallon spill, some 100,000 local residents remain without local access to water, and some 14,000 traditional fishermen are without work. (El Tiempo, June 12)

  1. Fracking operations spur violence in southern Colombia

    One man was shot by the military when thousands of locals from towns across the south of Colombian department of Caquetá took to the streets on Aug. 15, claiming that fracking activities by foreign and local companies are damaging their livelihoods. The shooting incident took place in Valparaiso municipality; protests were also reported in El Doncello, El Paujil and Morelia. According to the protesters, fracking activities of British company Emerald Energy is causing grave environmental damage to local waters and lands. (Colombia Reports)