(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN volunteer translator)
Source :PETROLEUM WORKERS UNION OF PUTUMAYO
“VILLA DEL SOL” NEIGHBORHOOD– VILLAGARZON MUNICIPALITY
LEGAL STATUS N 009, DECEMBER 29, 2009
CELL PHONE: (320) 2895876
OUR MESSAGE TO PUBLIC OPINION, OCTOBER 29, 2014
The Social, Environmental and Workers Organization, SINTRAPETROPUTUMAYO sends greetings to Putumayo Province and especially to the communities located in the urban and rural sectors of the Municipality of Villagarzón. We wish them comfort and family PEACE, which is the only peace that we can achieve in these times, peace between our brothers, relatives, friends, and neighbors, relying on the peace that has been a common denominator for the good people that characterize our province.
In our previous message there was good news for our communities, with the agreements that were achieved at the REGIONAL CONFERENCE OF SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS OF PUTUMAYO PROVINCE as well as SUCUMBIO GARDENS, IPIALES, AND NARINO, meeting with the Ministers of Interior, Environment, Mines, Labor, and Agriculture in Puerto Asís, Putumayo, and reaching important agreements for the development of the province. Subjects included an organized manner of substitution for coca planting, and review of environmental permits granted for petroleum and mining exploitation. The other important subject was the necessary social investment to reduce poverty in Putumayo Province (compliance with agreements). As always, all of these were signed, commitments made, but they remain on paper, only as expectations that have turned into fantasies for our people.
President Santos’ government, chosen recently in an exhausting campaign with deceitful arguments, revealed the economic, social, labor, environmental, productive, and cultural possibilities to be gained from the five “locomotives”: energy/mining, agriculture, housing, infrastructure and innovation, all framed by social and environmental development and respect for our country’s culture. For this province, the accomplishment of what was proposed by President SANTOS, is what would have been accomplished in the regional conference held last month, but what we didn’t know was that the national government has an ace up its sleeve. We know it as the sixth locomotive and it’s called THE LOCOMOTIVE OF DEATH. This locomotive is based on the following policies:
• Making the earth sterile, deterioration of natural resources, an increase in absolute poverty in the communities, displacement and persecution of the people by the fumigation with glyphosate on subsistence crops. Today those children of our land who make up part of the government only ask us to give thanks to the government for coming to lie to us. It’s not a secret to anybody that they went right back to fumigations after the agreements of September 5 and 19 of this year.
• The most recent report on Putumayo Province revealed that in Puerto Asís alone in the last three months of this year there have been 74 violent deaths, and a similar situation exists in the municipalities of Orito, Guamuez Valley, Villagarzón, and Puerto Caicedo. A number of those have been community leaders killed when they protested the government’s injustices. The question for the government is, with so many of the Armed Forces present for the safety of the citizens and the defense of the people, how can there be so many murders? The UN is present in Putumayo and revealed that the violations of human rights in our province are committed by illegal groups and by the Armed Forces. Thus we assume that it must be a government policy, a strategy that is part of the locomotive of death, because they are killing our community leaders, so that our submission to the government and to the multinationals assures their future power, now that Putumayo Province has been declared a MINING DISTRICT. To us Putumayans this really means that they are going to displace us from our land and from our dreams. WHAT ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS? This is a question for our two representatives in Congress to put to their countryman who is in the government, in a plenary session and at the time when the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia asks it of the President of the Republic and of those of his ministers that signed the agreements in Putumayo Province.
• On October 17, 2014, the national government, headed by Minister of Labor Lucho Garzón and the Minister of Mines and Energy, Tomas Gonzales Estrada, signed Decree 2089 of 2014. It establishes the conditions for labor guarantees with the multinationals, especially the tank truck drivers, specifying the manner of hiring the workers. In the first place, the Decree establishes the responsibility of the multinationals in the regions where they operate. The first question for the Minister of Labor regarding this is, who is in charge in Colombia, the multinationals with policies that bleed the workers and enslave them, or the government with its great genuflections before the potentates and the millionaires of the world? Because the people now understand very clearly that the multinationals will continue to mess with the people and with the government, starting with the governments of the municipalities, provinces and at the national level, and they will get the government to defend them as it always does when the people protest and claim their rights.
Another question for the Labor Minister, with the famous special businesses that give away public jobs, don’t eliminate the right of association or the right to organize. Don’t end the ability to make demands that is provided to organizations by this right. Don’t go back to another institutional mafia rigged in favor of the multinationals, especially when you are talking about the minimum of qualified workers, a miserable 30% which is what they offered to the people. That way the multinationals can create businesses hidden away for more than 20 years, where their owners are the very same officers of the multinationals. What the famous Decree ought to say is that they have to use qualified workers, unqualified workers, and local businesses from the region, 100 %, because it isn’t true that workers don’t exist here in this province. We can supply everything they ask for.
Because if SENA (National Learning Service) is responsible for these activities in the province, we have to say that unfortunately, SENA Putumayo has not been able to carry out its mission and its vision in the area of academics in our region. If they leave technical training aside in an irresponsible way, much less can they manage a public advertisement for employees.
We consider that Decree 2089 of 2014 is one more strategy of the LOCOMOTIVE OF DEATH.
• The government of President SANTOS just issued Decree 2041 of 2014 on October 14, 2014, regarding environmental licenses. In its Article 4, “Global Environmental License”, it says, “In this case, for the development of each of the activities and projects defined in the hydrocarbon stage, it will be necessary to present an environmental management plan that complies with the terms, conditions and obligations established in the Global Environmental License.”
That environmental management plan will not be subject to prior evaluation by the competent environmental authority; once it is presented, the developer may undertake the work and the activities that are the subject of environmental control and observation.
The question is where is the community participation, where are the collective rights, the citizen oversight, the right to a healthy environment, the company’s social responsibility, the sustainable development, the mitigation activities, compensation, prevention, and correction that the constitution talks about? What about Statute 99 of 2993? What about the Natural Resources Code of 1974? What about the socio-environmental policy of ANH (National Hydrocarbon Agency)? Is it true that all of these national policies are no longer methods and strategies for living together socially and are going to be one more formula for the LOCOMOTIVE OF DEATH, implemented by the current national, provincial and municipal governments? Where is the responsibility that we have as a people? That would be the question for future candidates for municipal councils, provincial assemblies, and mayoral and gubernatorial candidates in Putumayo Province. They are already lined up, hoping that the answer will not be like the current ones: BOW DOWN OR WE WILL GO BACK TO BEING ALLIES OF THE GOVERNMENT BECAUSE THAT’S THE WAY IT IS. OR NO CAKE FOR YOU.
Because of all of this, we reject and denounce, as forcefully as we can, THE LOCOMOTIVE OF DEATH. It is what is bringing us death, trumped-up criminal charges, disappearances, frame-ups, threats to community and labor leaders, deterioration of natural resources with fumigation and savage exploitation of non-renewable natural resources, and displacement because of the failure to eradicate the absolute poverty in the province. They make it worse with the anti-democratic and tyrannical decrees without any consultation like those we have described above. Because of all of this, we are SINTRAPETROPUTUMAYO, Always With the People and Fighting for Social Justice and Labor Peace.
“HUMAN WELFARE, BOTH SOCIAL AND FAMILY, DEPENDS ON YOUR AMBITIONS AND ON THE FIGHTING ABILITY THAT YOU HAVE AND THAT YOU USE ON EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THE TASKS ASSIGNED TO YOU, AND FOR WHICH HISTORY WILL REMEMBER YOU AND THAT YOUR FAMILY WILL ENJOY AND THE PROVINCE WILL BE GLAD OF”