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Colombia: Govt. position on extractive industries & peace-building ‘threatens’ environmental, land rights defenders, says analyst

Author: Tatiana Roa for Upside-down World, Published on: 13 March 2018

“Colombia: Extractivist Pax vs. Peace with Social and Environmental Justice” – March 3, 2018

During the last few years, arguments have been put forward to defend the aggressive territorial occupation by oil companies, even in places with no extraction history. Throughout 2016, the importance of oil development in the post-conflict period was emphasized by both president Juan Manuel Santos and the management of Ecopetrol and other companies, as well as the Ministry of Mines and Energy. However, during the last few months, the development of community initiatives has managed to stop some extractive projects by articulating different mobilizations, legal, advocacy, and communication strategies, thus thwarting the oil sector…After the popular consultation in Cumaral–Meta, where, on June 4, 97% of voters decided to ban “seismic exploration, exploratory drilling, and hydrocarbon production activities” in their municipality, the debate became even more heated…[C]ertain social sectors of the country…have expressed that the Colombian government is not actually interested in overcoming the structural causes of the conflict, but in opening those areas to foreign investments. Maristella Svampa calls it “extractivist pax” and warns that, as it is conceived by dominant groups, “it would imply nothing but the radicalization of war through other means (higher criminalization, more environmental advocates being murdered, strengthening of the chain of violence).”…The increase in extractive projects has exacerbated socio-environmental conflicts, and several territorial defense processes and a significant citizen mobilization were triggered…Based on the map prepared by the Environmental Justice Organizations, Liabilities and Trade (EJOLT) project, more than 115 socio-environmental conflicts have been recorded in Colombia, most of them due to extractive projects…

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Related companies: Ecopetrol