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Tribal Survival

re the following post by ali (fbc) we take to heart the mutual interest to
be informed of these and other transgressions by oil companies TOTAL
and others support Slorc against virtually defenseless
indigineous peoples, whether the victims be their brothers and sisters in Burma,
or as in this case, the U'wa people in Columbia and Occidental Oil. Please bear in mind
that US President Clinton recently signed over a huge previously protected public 
land, actually a federally protected National Park, to Occidental. 

If any one has any information on that deal, please email us at EBN
Worldwide TOTAL Boycott

Pwint Htun <htun@xxxxxxxxxx>
U'wa People Threaten Collective Suicide

Approximately 4,000 U'wa people of Columbia have threatened to commit
collective suicide if the Occidental Oil Company drills for oil on their
territory. Unfortunately, this issue hasn't received much coveraged, and
we should help out with their struggle by writing to  

Dr.Ray R. Irani, President and C.E.O
Occidental Petroleum
Los Angeles Headquarters
Tel: 1(310) 208-8800
Fax: 1(310) 443-6690

To get more information about this issue, please check out


the following post came from ENS, and shows how very nice
oil companies can be. Incidently, french  newspapers now
are full of the french oil comapny ELF, and their
military engagements with french state, backing the
dictator in the Congo. No one is making much distinction
between this recently privatized french oil giant, and the 
french state's military and political engagements in africa,
or elsewhere. ebn, dawn star

22 Oct 1997 
EnviroLink News Service <newsdesk@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>


LOS ANGELES, California, October 21, 1997 (ENS) - The leader of a tribe of
Colombian indigenous people has revealed that he was beaten and threatened
with death to force him to sign an agreement allowing oil exploitation on
tribal lands. He refused to sign the document.

At a protest demonstration Monday at the Wilshire Boulevard offices of
Occidental Petroleum, Roberto Afanador Cobaria, President of Cabildo Mayor,
the Traditional U'wa Authority, presented an open letter to the presidents
of Occidental and Shell Oil disclosing the beating publicly for the first

The 5,000 member U'wa tribe has threatened mass suicide if the oil
exploration planned by the two companies on U'wa ancestral lands goes
ahead. The tribe has a tradition of protest by mass suicide. Their lands
are high in the Andean Cloud Forest of Colombia.

Cobaria wrote in the letter, "Today I speak for the first time in public of
the threat and beating I have received by hooded men in the night,
demanding I sign an authorization agreement or die. Can you see how the
U'wa are already suffering from oil exploitation? The war that spreads
throughout Colombia will spread to U'wa land if your oil project starts.
Can you see how it is already arriving? Oil may be good to sell, but it
causes war."

The lands adjacent to U'wa territory are already being drilled for oil with
disastrous consequences, according to Atossa Soltani, spokesperson for
Amazon Watch, one of the environmental groups sponsoring Cobaria's visit to
the United States.

"In the area that neighbors the U'wa, Cano Limon, where Oxy now has
drilling going on, there have been 473 guerilla bombings since the pipeline
was put in 11 years ago," Soltani said. Close to a million and a half
barrels of crude oil have been spilled due to the bombings, she estimated.

The U'wa fear guerilla violence in their area. In their attempt to bring
down the government of Colombia, guerillas bomb oil installations because
oil is such an important source of revenue for the government. "This past
year 30 people including military and oil company employees have been
killed in Cano Limon by the bombings," Soltani said.

Roger Gillott, spokesman for Occidental Petroleum, told ENS in an
interview, "These are issues between the U'wa and the government of

In early March 1997, Colombia's Council of State ruled that Occidental's
environmental license to undertake exploration in the Samore area was in
full compliance with Colombian law and that exploration activities could
proceed. Occidental has, "voluntarily refrained from doing so in order to
consult with the U'was for the purpose of addressing their concerns," the
company said in a statement in May.

The Samore area includes land that is not U'wa territory as well as part of
the U'wa reservation. Gillott said that although the company has done some
seismic testing in the Samore area, "We are not operating on the U'wa
reservation, nor do we intend to operate in the U'wa reservation."

Cobaria says his people cannot negotiate over oil. "You speak of
negotiation and consultation with the U'wa," Cobaria wrote in his open
letter to the oil company presidents. "My people say that they cannot
negotiate. Our Father has not authorized it. We cannot sell oil, the blood
of our Mother Earth. Mother Earth is sacred. It is not for negotiation, so
please do not try to confuse us and others with offers. Please hear our
request, a request that comes from our ancestral right by virtue of being
born on our territory. Halt your oil project on U'wa ancestral land."

While in the United States Cobaria travelled to New York and Washington, DC
where he met with United Nations officials and presented the U'wa's case to
the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of
American States. Funds are also being solicited for the U'wa's legal defense.

Cobaria's visit to Los Angeles was sponsored by the U'wa Defense Project, a
coalition formed by Amazon Watch, Action Resource Center, Earthways
(Projects of Earth Trust Foundation), and the International Law Center.

"We are committed to being a good neighbor wherever we operate," James
Niehaus, Occidental's executive vice president with responsibility for
Colombia, said during a meeting with Cobaria in May.

"In Colombia, we already have done a great deal to improve the quality of
life of our neighbors near our existing operations in Cano Limon and in
Covenas where the company has worked to deliver health, education,
agricultural and other support," Niehaus said. He stressed that an
agreement with the U'was would assure direct benefits to the community from
oil operations if the company's exploration efforts are successful.

Occidental Petroleum is currently the largest oil producer in Colombia. The
company has between 900 and 1,000 employees and contract workers employed
in the country. Only five of the employees are from the United States. The
company's Cano Limon field in northeastern Colombia has produced 747
million barrels since production began in 1985.

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