On the 19th of January 2000, more than 5000 heavily armed soldiers of the Colombian Army invaded our traditional territory in Cedeño, where Occidental Petroleum's oil drilling well Gibraltar 1 is located.
Facing the opposition of the Uwa people headed by our representative the indigenous leader Roberto Cobaria Berito, the Armed forces stated that "over and above the indigenous U'was, they had to exploit oil". At the same time Police forces moveD to the zone with the aim to "protect" the safety of Occidental's engineers.
Since the 15th of November of 1999, more than 250 members of our community stand in peaceful protest in the area of Cedeño, which is part of our ancestral territory, claiming resistance against oil exploitation by the OXY. Today we are being cordoned off by the Colombian Army and Police, putting at risk our physical integrity.
With this action, Oxy and the Colombian Army insist on ignoring our territorial rights, sacred for thousands of year and ignoring us as the real owners of the land where the oil exploitation is going to take place. This series of events ignores our constitutional and legal rights, which state that the communal ethnic territories are inalienable, can not be seized, and that they are protected by the title deed of colective territory.
Likewise, the Colombian government, headed by the Minister of Mining and Energy with the complicity of INCORA (National institute for Agrarian Reform), pretend to declare the U'wa territory as an oil reserve, with the false argument that the national oil industry acquires by law a special status of public interest, with the true and only purpose of facilitating and allowing oil exploitation on behalf of the multinational Oxy.
We are urgently calling the attention of the national and international communities and the NGO support groups to take action, speak up ,and move against this latest violation against the U'wa people, which is threatening our existence and culture.
THE U'WAS WILL NOT GIVE UP OUR CULTURAL, HISTORICAL AND ANCESTRAL RIGHTS.
WE RATHER PREFER A GENOCIDE SPONSORED BY THE COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT BEFORE OUR MOTHER LAND IS DESTROYED BY THE OIL COMPANIES.
Cubará, 20 de enero del 2000
CABILDO MAYOR U´WA
Cubará, Boyacá, Colombia
INFORMATION: Tel: 57-1- 2812071; 57-1- 3376950; 57-1- 2456860; 57-1- 2458906
Censat Agua Viva (FoE Colombia)
Apartado Aéreo 16789
Santafé de Bogotá, D.C.
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