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Colombian Tribe Topples Mighty Oil Giant
(Gabrielle Banks, AlterNet, May 6, 2002)
Occidental Petroleum announced that it was relinquishing control of Siriri, the oil block in Colombia on the ancestral land of the U'wa people. . . . "It just shows that drilling for oil in ancestral territories of indigenous communities in a tropical rainforest region is an unviable and untenable business plan," said Michael Brune of the Rainforest Action Network. . . . when the U'wa realized Occidental intended to proceed with the drilling, the tribe prayed for the oil to "move." Maybe the dry well was simply proof that the universe is the best arbiter in matters of such consequence. . . . However you spin it, this was a colossal victory for the U'wa, a tribe of just 5,000 souls, whose scrappy, grassroots struggle against Occidental began nearly a decade ago. The U'wa said the oil operation threatened the basic welfare of civilians who would be caught in the cross-fire of Colombia's civil war. . . . The battle over power and resources -- perpetrated by the Colombian military, leftist FARC guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries and drug traffickers -- has ravaged any semblance of normalcy for Colombians. People are kidnapped and murdered in what amounts to a perpetual, surreal chess match. (Staking its own territorial claim in the war, the Bush Administration is pushing the U.S. Congress to authorize $98 million in military aid to defend another Occidental venture, the Caño-Limon pipeline, a private enterprise which runs through U'wa land.) . . . In one of the best-covered protests, demonstrators outside the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles denounced Al Gore's insensitivity to the U'wa people. At the time, Gore was a major stockholder in Occidental and the U'wa had threatened a mass suicide if the company went forward with its plan to drill. . . . We may never know why Occidental pulled its operations out of the Siriri block, but this rare, non-violent triumph of the few offers a powerful lesson to the mighty armed masses at war in Colombia (and in many places throughout the world). No matter how daunting the opponent, true victory can never be attained through bloodshed.

 

U.S. Expects a Wider War on Two Fronts in Colombia
(Christopher Marquis, t r u t h o u t, April 28, 2002)
The United States is already preparing for a widening war in Colombia, where the government has been battling two leftist insurgencies with ties to drug trafficking and a right-wing paramilitary organization widely accused of human rights abuses tolerated by the Colombian military. . . . The Bush administration has asked Congress to let Colombians use American-trained soldiers and equipment against the guerrillas, arguing that it is not feasible to limit American assistance to the fight against drugs. . . . The United States has provided $1.7 billion in support of the anti- narcotics and development plan and the administration's successor plan, the Andean Regional Initiative. Most of the assistance has been in military aid and training. The administration has so far provided 8 helicopters to the national police and 35 to the Colombian armed forces and trained a counter narcotics battalion that officials say is the most effective fighting unit in Colombia. . . . The administration is currently asking Congress to finance another battalion and provide $98 million to equip Colombian forces to protect the Cano Limón oil pipeline. Rebel attacks on the pipeline shut it down for 240 days last year, costing the government $500 million in lost revenue, officials said.

 

Activists Protest Expanding Aid to Colombia (Jim Lobe, OneWorld.net, February 27, 2002)
The civil war in Colombia, which dates back to the 1960s, has pitted the FARC and a second, smaller rebel group, against the Colombian armed forces, as well as right-wing paramilitary armies which are backed by powerful business interests and some military officers, according to international human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW). . . . In addition, even before the collapse of the peace process last week, the administration had asked Congress to approve some US $250 million more in military aid, including US $98 million to train and supply new army brigades to protect an oil pipeline owned by the US corporation Occidental. . . . The groups, which also include about a dozen church relief organizations, asked Powell to ensure "that no US military equipment or U.S.-funded battalions are used in the operation to retake the DMZ.

 

 


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