[Translated by Jessica Schwartz, CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by John Laun]
On February 26 and 27 the Police Inspection of Arauca attempted to evict 40 families who were stripped of their land more than 20 years ago by the multinational company Occidental Petroleum (OXY).
Paramilitary threats and farmworker and indigenous resistance
Forty families have already spent 16 months in the settlement, insisting on regaining their land despite the siege led by oil company’s security forces, the police, and the army.
A new fact that generated anxiety in this community was the appearance of an evocative sign by the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) within the land regained by the farmworkers, which is located within the petroleum complex Caño Limón under control of OXY, an area permanently militarized and monitored through electronic screens.
The confrontation, also in Justice
By legal means, OXY has tried to use its influences to evict the farmworkers without complying with the rulings by the Superior Court of Cundinamarca, which in 2011 ruled in favor of the displaced farmworkers and ordered the Colombian Institute of Rural Development – Incoder – to restore their rights and comply with the relocation of the families.
At a hearing in which OXY intended to evict farmworkers from their land, an official of OXY served as secretary of the Municipal Inspector of Arauquita. Yet, as a result of the hearing, the farmworkers won a battle that permitted them to stay in place.
Once again, OXY is trying to evict the farmworkers. This time they are going to the Police Department of Arauca to receive their land claims without making the slightest effort so that the farmworkers can recover what rightfully belongs to them.
Until 2014 the farmworkers continued paying taxes for their land to the municipal administration of Arauquita, despite not having been permitted to cultivate the land for 20 years.
In a similar way, the indigenous people in the region of Arauca exhausted their legal possibilities. Through a class-action lawsuit, they tried to protect what remains of the lagoon of Lipa. The estuaries are being threatened by an oil project called Chipirón, which is producing platform rails and an artificial island that affect the ecosystem.
The community leaders filed a criminal complaint against the transnational corporation OXY and Corporinoquia for the environmental damage that the oil exploitation has generated in Arauca. The complaint has not made major progress on part of the investigating agency.
Oil exploitation in the region of Arauca has left a serious social, environmental, and humanitarian crisis that constantly has been denounced and is grounds for social mobilization to demand decent living conditions. The inhabitants of this region see their resources draining through the oil pipeline while hunger, poverty, and inequality remain on their land.
The newspaper Trochando Sin Fronteras (http://www.trochandosinfronteras.info) of the social organizations of East Center of Colombia developed a video that documents the situation of the displaced farmworkers and the presence of security forces in the region.