Friday, September 08, 2006

COLOMBIA: CPTers accompany demonstration at ECOPETROL

7 September 2006

COLOMBIA: CPTers accompany demonstration at ECOPETROL

On 25 August 2006, CPTers Julian Gutierrez and Kim Lamberty participated in
a demonstration along with several hundred other people at an ECOPETROL
operational center in the township of Centro, located just outside
Barrancabermeja.  ECOPETROL is the state-owned gas and petroleum company.
Participants gathered to show their opposition to an agreement between
ECOPETROL and Occidental Petroleum(OXY) that gives OXY the rights to the
remaining petroleum located in the areas "mature" oil fields.   Under the
agreement, OXY will inject water into the underground pipelines in order to
force out the remaining oil.  The pressure from this technique could cause
the pipes to explode, thereby endangering the people who occupy and farm the
land located above the pipelines.  The project could  thus disrupt farming
and livestock operations and force people to leave their land.  It will also
interfere with domestic gas supplies in the area.

The ECOPETROL labor union USO (UniĆ³n Sindicato Obrero), together with the
community of Centro, organized the demonstration for this day because
executives from OXY planned to be  at the plant.  The event began early in
the morning with ESMAD (the Colombian riot police) attempting to provoke
violence with tear gas and rubber bullets--injuring the local parish
priest--and by pushing and shoving the demonstrators.  The demonstrators did
not react violently, and the event ended at 2:00 p.m. without further

CPT was present at the event in solidarity with the community and to
diminish the possibility that violence might occur.


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