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"The U'wa people are reaching out at a national and international level to ask for the unconditional assistance to our struggle that dates back many years. We refuse to be silent and we are going...
"The U'wa people are reaching out at a national and international level to ask for the unconditional assistance to our struggle that dates back many years. We refuse to be silent and we are going to mobilize ourselves, once again engage in protest actions against the extraction of oil which will damage our Mother Earth." Berito Cobaría Berito longtime U'wa spiritual leader and recipient of the 1998 Goldman Environmental Prize.
In February of 2014, Colombia's national oil company, Ecopetrol intensified oil exploration activities within U'wa ancestral territory.
In late March, an illegal bombing of the Caño Limón oil pipeline which runs through part of the U'wa resguardo created toxic pollution and caused severe health issues for several U'wa individuals. The company and government are eager to patch the pipeline and resume 80,000 barrels of daily transport to the Caribbean coast. But the U'wa, exercising their rights within their own legal territory, have refused to permit any repair to be carried out.
The U'wa are demanding a direct dialogue with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to discuss the issue. Meanwhile, a group of 50 U'wa are watching over the pipeline's ruptured section near La China. The U'wa are deeply concerned that the government might resort to use of military force to displace the U'wa against their will and repair the pipeline under national security justification.
To safeguard their rights and lives, the U'wa are working in conjunction with allies like Amazon Watch to raise awareness within Colombia and around the world. In addition to needing support to maintain their grassroots actions at a local and national level, next month they hope to send a delegation of leaders and legal advisors to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, in New York.
International support is critical for the safety of the U'wa people. Please support their emergency campaign to defend their land and rights!