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Wednesday,August 21,2019
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U'wa Tribe Struggles Against Multinational Petroleum Corporations:"The Earth Is Our Mother!"
Somewhere in the interior of Colombia, a small tribe of U'wa struggles against Occidental of Colombia (OXY), a U.S multinational corporation, demanding their right to live. Nine years ago, OXY bought some parts of U'wa territory for petroleum exploration. U'wa territory covers five states of Colombia (Arauca, Casanare, Santander, North Santander and Boyaca) and the Venezuelan state of Merida. However, the territory has been exploited by the Colombian government for 40 years. In the process, about 20,000 indigenous U'wa died and now only about 6,000 of them remain. If OXY goes ahead with oil-well drilling, the U'wa will disappear from the earth.
The U'wa have been demonstrating against the violence of OXY. Six-thousand U'wa warned OXY and the Colombian government that they will kill themselves if the exploitation is not stopped. They can't help but choosing mass suicide as a powerful tactic in their struggle, because an armed struggle is forbade by their self-governing ethos.
After U'wa struggle became widely known in 1992, they have been a symbol of anti-globalization. In terms of "bio-diversity," Colombia contains 15 percent of the world's flora and fauna even though its territory is much less than is percent of the world's land the world. Drilling by OXY is not only threatening the U'wa's right to live but also destroying the ecosystem of Colombia.
Evalisto, an U'wa lawyer, says, "The earth is our mother.  Oil is mother's blood. Pumping up oil means killing our mother. Industrial development gives us profits immediately, but it also brings us destruction, and can even kill us. The U'wa have existed for thousands of years by living in harmony with nature. We are not only against OXY but also against all excessive exploitation of our territory."
OXY will not drill for oil for the time being because of negative results regarding the expected petroleum bonanza from Gibraltar 1. However, U'wa territory is threatened by other petroleum exploration projects such as BLOQUE CAPACHOS 1, which is also the name of the Tame-Arauca municipality's territory, carried out by a Spanish multinational corporation. And the Colombian government still ignores the U'wa's right to live on their ancestral lands. The U'wa are asking their supporters all over the world to continue their struggle in the second phase of resistance against petroleum companies. And, they are shouting to us, "We are children of the earth. Help us to defend ourselves from the violence of multinational corporations."

Kim Hye-jeong  bbejeoi@hanmail.net

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