Cultural triumph in Colombia

August 7, 2001

Cultural triumph in Colombia
A Communique to the international community

Cubará, July 31, 2001
Recently, the U.S multinational company Occidental of Colombia (OXY) publicly recognised the negative results regarding the expected petroleum developments of Gibraltar 1, in the traditional territories of the U'wa people of Colombia.

For the U'wa, after doing a meticulous study of our origin, our history and of the flagrant violations of our great laws committed by the Colombian state and OXY, we knew this news months before. For our highest traditional authorities, WERJAYAS, defenders of the landmarks of the world, it's a battle that has been won, but the war continues because the U'wa territory is not only Gibraltar 1.

Our territory is more extensive, covering five Colombian states (Casanare, Arauca, Boyacá, Santander and North Santander) and part of the Venezuelan territory, today known as the state of Merida.

We say that it is only one battle and more await us, for today, the Sacred U'wa territory remains threatened by the petroleum exploration project BLOQUE CAPACHOS I, in the jurisdiction of the Tame - Arauca municipality, carried out by the SPANISH PETROLEUM MULTINATIONAL REPSOL EXPLORACIÓN COLOMBIA, S.A.

The indigenous reserve of Angostura, which is home to U'wa (with 3,200 hectares), Macarieros (40 hectares) and Payeros (the last of the Sikuani ethnic group with 94 hectares) are all being affected.

The National Government's administrative procedures for the BLOQUE CAPACHOS I, headed by the Minister of the Environment and the Ministry of the Interior (under the direction of the General of Indigenous Affairs), secretly moved ahead ignoring the process of consultation and agreement with the U'wa and Sikuani communities, as we are the ones that are directly affected by the project. This is the same obscure and deceptive process that moved ahead in Gibraltar I.

In the face of this event, the U'wa will inform our highest authorities to make decisions in how to act materially and spiritually to resist this project.

The knowledge inherited from our ancestors and the spiritual communication with the eternal father SIRA that we zealously preserve and practice today, allows us to reaffirm our vision and cultural mission, which we are obligated to defend with dignity. THE RESPECT FOR THE LIFE OF MOTHER EARTH AND ALL THAT EXISTS UPON HER.

It is also right to say that in this first defense we were accompanied unrestrictedly by the social sectors from the state of Arauca, Cubará (Boyacá) and Toledo (North Santander), the indigenous brothers of Colombia and all Colombians who felt and observed powerlessly the physical and verbal aggressions we were subjected to in search for respect of our sacred rights.

The blood spilled of the North Americans indigenous women and activist who were killed, the loss of our U'wa children in the violent evictions, the
humiliations of the armed forces, the cries of the U'wa children and elders in the peaceful mobilizations, the challenge to resist the aggressions by the Colombian State and OXY, will not go unpunished. They will be a memory with a bittersweet taste that will remain in the minds of those who participated directly and indirectly in the most difficult moments of this process. The vigilant and zealous spirit of our martyrs strengthens us to reaffirm the process of defense of our Historical Patrimonial Millennial Rights. Moreover, we highlight the international support that we have counted on with their moral, ethical, spiritual and economic solidarity to resist against the invasion of our sacred spaces.

We invite all our friends of Colombia and the World to continue their solidarity with the U'wa people in our second phase of resistance against petroleum companies and the Colombian State that continue to ignore our territorial and cultural rights. The U'wa have always respected that which belongs to others, but the government and multinational corporations continue to violate our rights.

Finally, we insist that the Colombian Government comply with the recuperation and legalization of the united U'wa Reserve.

Cultures with principles cannot be bought.

Roberto Pérez Gutierrez
President of U'wa Traditional Authority
U'wa Association
Office of Cabildo Mayor U'wa:
Fax: 0978 892326

WE ARE THE CHILDREN OF THE EARTH, HELP US DEFEND IT.
SOURCE: ASSOCIATION OF U'WA TRADITIONAL AUTHORITIES, July 31,
2001 (ASSOCIATION OF U'WA TRADITIONAL AUTHORITIES DECREE No. 1088 of 1993,

From: Oilwatch International Secretariat (Email: oilwatch@uio.satnet.net)
The following is an announcement regarding a significant victory for the U'wa nation of Colombia in their struggle against Oxy petroleum. For background details on their campaign, see http://www.moles.org

</