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Cano Limon & Violence

For "security reasons" Occidental pays a war tax for the permanent presence of two military brigades in Cano Limon. Look at the following statistics and ask yourself who it is that is being protected?

FACT: Occidental's Cano Limon pumpstation and pipeline in Arauca­which controls almost one third of Colombia's oil export­has been attacked by guerrillas 473 times in its 11 years of existence, releasing 1.5 million barrels of oil into fragile wetlands surrounding the pipeline (in comparison the Exxon Valdez spill was 36,000 barrels). In 1997 alone there have already been 53 attacks resulting in the death of 30 soldiers and five Oxy employees.

FACT: Last year in the Arauca region there were: 38 assassinations, 18 massacres, 31 incidents of torture, 44 kidnappings, and 151 illegal detentions according to a study by the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC, 1997). In Colombia, seventy percent of political killings are carried out by soldiers, police and paramilitary death squads. Union leaders, peasants and human rights monitors are the prime targets (Colombia Support Network, 1997).

FACT: Most local and international environmental and human rights non-governmental organizations (NGO's) studying the problem estimate that the impact of oil exploitation on local communities in the Samore block will be far worse than Cano Limon.

FACT: Occidental Petroleum has yet to make a reasonable argument demonstrating that the U'wa will not suffer far more than benefit from their presence in Bloque Samore.

El Territorio U'wa

The name "U'wa" translates into "the Thinking People" and the U'wa live up to that name. The U'wa are a peaceful people who have maintained the equilibrium of their environment for thousands of years. The U'wa have survived numerous colonizations and were in the process of regaining territory before Occidental "discovered" oil beneath their territory. Not once have they taken up arms against another tribe or even against Occidental.

In consideration of the threat from Occidental (funded by Shell) the U'wa have stated that they would "rather die with dignity, protecting what they hold sacred, than lose everything that makes them the U'wa-the Thinking People." The U'wa believe that oil is "the blood of Mother Earth. It is sacred. And what is sacred we don't sell or negotiate."

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