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Environmental, Campaign & Website News > U'WA victory communique! Resisting the Money King

U'WA victory communique! Resisting the Money King

Date : 9th May 2002, Source : Newsgroup

"The money king is only an illusion. Capitalism is blind and barbaric. It buys consciences, governments, peoples, and nations. It poisons the water and the air. It destroys everything. And to the U'wa, it says that we are crazy, but we want to continue being crazy if it means we can continue to exist on our dear mother EARTH."

- U’wa communique May 7, 2002

In this Post :

#1 U’wa communique May 7, 2002
#2 Celebrating Victories, Remaining Vigilant

* * * *

Place : Cubará - Boyacá, Colombia

Date : May 7, 2002

>From The Traditional Authorities of the U'wa Association
>Re: Statement to the national and international public on the withdrawal of Oxy from U'wa sacred territory Kera Chikara

The millennial and historic U'wa Indigenous People of Colombia situated in the departments of Casanare, Arauca, Boyacá, Santander and Norte de Santander, through this statement would like to express thanks from our hearts for the total and unconditional support that we have received from the following national and international organizations in defense of life, culture and the environment.

National Organizations: Social Sectors and la Junta de Personeros from the department of Arauca; of Cubará, Guicán, Sogamoso, Tunja in Boyacá; from the areas of Gibraltar and Samoré, Toledo local authority in Norte de Santander; Bucaramanga in Santander; Censat Agua Viva, Siempre Viva, Bacata Comité Colombia es U´wa, Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia-ONIC-, Colectivo de Abogado José Alvear Restrepo, Minga; Comisión Colombiana de Juristas, students of the Universidad Nacional, la Defensoria del Pueblo in Bogotá, Ecos Hijos de la Tierra in Calí. The magistrate Ciro Angarita Q.E.P.D., indigenous senators Lorenzo Muelas, Jesús Enrique Pinacue, Francisco Rojas Birry, Alegría Fonseca in Colombia.

International Organizations: Project Underground, EarthJustice, Goldman Environmental Foundation, Abya Yala, Amazon Watch, Oil Watch, Amazon Coalition, Pacha Mama, Amazon Alliance, Green Space, Rainforest Action Network, Rainforest Foundation, Cultural Survival Conservancy, Menominee Community, family and friends of Terence Freitas, Ingrid Washinawatok, and Lahenae Gay from the United States; Watu and, the Prince of Asturias in Spain; Proyecto Norte Sur and Alan Cassani in Geneva; Vía Campesina, Derechos Humanos Daniel D'Gillard, Paul Emil and his wife, the European Parliament, in Belgium; Ana Vivas, France Liberté, in Paris, the city of Valencia and José Bove in France; Basta Ya in Germany; The Italian Green Party, the local authorities of Bari, Toscana, Masa, Roma, the Universities in Italy; Acción Global de Los Pueblos in Holland; indigenous communities of Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Bolivia in South America; Mexico, Guatemala, San José de Costa Rica en Central America, Finland etc.

We want to thank all of these people and organizations and others that we didn't have present in our memories who contributed in a direct and indirect way and we recognize with all our heart and spirit the total and unconditional support that we received in the most difficult moments of this process of defending culture, territory and autonomy. Since 1996 when our brother Terence Freitas arrived in our territory, we were given the spiritual strength and shown the path along which the U'wa Peoples should walk in their fight against the diabolical multinational oil company Occidental of Colombia OXY that came and violated our most sacred right: "Violation of the sacred body of our mother earth," their stabbing was felt some feet (12,500) below the earth's surface and she cried. She asked us to defend her and to tell the world what she was feeling. We did that and we will continue to do that. This is only known by the U'wa people and our allies because of our permanent contact with her.

Our cultural principles include the defense of the right to a dignified life, respect for mother earth and the environment, essential and sacred elements that we should leave as an inheritance to our children, grandchildren and their descendents. We want to thank all for their moral, spiritual, human and economic support, particularly our friends near to our lands such as the social sectors of the department of Arauca who once again felt state violence. However, convinced of our just and noble cause, they accompanied us at all times day after day, night after night, they were always by our side sharing difficult moments, seeing and feeling the contempt of the company and those enemies of life and the environment who attacked not only the life of Terence, Ingrid and Lahena'e, but also the source of life, "mother earth."

Today we invite all of our brother and sister children of the earth to tell the world that mother earth is alive, that the U'wa are alive, that the coming together of many voices, hands, cries, writings, meditation, feet, thoughts etc make people free from aggressors and destroyers.

We also want to remember the deaths of our leaders who gave their lives for the defense of the world's life, our U'wa and Guahibo children who lost their lives defending during brutal operations of the security forces as they went ahead with the eviction of our lands, all to fulfill the strict orders of the invading oil company OXY and the Colombian government. They went down on their knees for outside interests and took homes from us, the homeowners, and denied us our clear rights. "THE MONEY KING, 'DEATH AND DESTRUCTION' SHOULD RULE OVER LIFE," that's what enemies of life think.

We insist that our protests, demonstrations and other actions were carried out to demand our legitimate rights as established in national and international laws, and for that reason anyone who attacks this should be reprimanded and removed from their job. We will continue to demand punishment for those responsible. In particular, we want to condemn one more time the actions and omissions of the Minister of the Environment Juan Mayr Maldonado and his followers who came to our lands and deceived us, always behaving in bad faith. They handed over to us a Resolución de Resguardo (Land Rights Resolution) and then gave OXY an environmental license to begin their assault on the U'wa People. But the saddest thing is that he said he was a friend of nature, mother earth, Indians, and the question is: Which Indians?

We want to remind our friends and brothers and sisters around the world that our fight continues, that the government should return lands that they took through violence, cancel all oil, mining, and environmental projects, immediately hand over the sum of $18.000'000.000 (Colombian pesos) the cost of land titling for the United U'wa Reserve, compensate us for the death of our children and leaders, compensate the families of the three supporters of indigenous rights that gave their lives to defend our legitimate rights, and the social sectors for their human, moral and economic losses. The U'wa will show the government that we are dignified and fair, that we are not asking for anything that isn't ours, that mother earth and her children are sacred.

We all belong to the divine creation SIRA and as such we deserve respect. Mother earth, despite being violated, silently continues feeding us, sustaining us. She doesn't feel envy. She talks but very few listen to her voice. She insists through cries but everything continues the same. This worries us, but we the U'wa and friends of the U'wa of Colombia and the World will continue to defend her with our voice, our sacred fasts, our songs, our faith.

Our brothers and sisters, the air, water, sun, moon are contaminated and they are being destroyed. This too worries us because if humanity wants to continue to live we should start to take decisions to prevent our self-destruction. No one destroys man. Man destroys himself. We want to continue reflecting to avoid the destruction of the world because the U'wa want to continue to live.

The money king is only an illusion. Capitalism is blind and barbaric. It buys consciences, governments, peoples, and nations. It poisons the water and the air. It destroys everything. And to the U'wa, it says that we are crazy, but we want to continue being crazy if it means we can continue to exist on our dear mother EARTH.

The government should recognize that we are people who are part of that word "State." It should respect our forms of life, our thinking, our laws of origin and of our elders. It should respect universal human rights and international treaties because we are people-- we too feel.

Brother and sisters of the world, the U'wa will continue defending mother earth. We invite you to continue accompanying us. Thank you for believing in us.

A special greeting to Kevin, Atossa, Leslie, Abby, Elizabeth, Ana Maria, Martín, David, Shannon, Giussepe, Carlos deocon, Alan, Paola, Laura, Patricia Borraz,


* * * * *



It has been a dramatic week for the U’wa, their supporters and everyone working for peace and justice in Colombia. Amidst several US policy decisions that will escalate the violence in Colombia, comes OXY’s announcement that they are returning the Siriri oil block, which is located on U’wa land, to the Colombian government. What this means is that the words that so many of us have written on banners, said in press releases, and chanted at numerous demonstrations "OXY OFF OF U’WA LAND!" - are coming true!

Although the U’wa are still confirming details and have 10 years of experiences with OXY’s dirty tricks to make them cautious, they have received this news with great joy. This is a major VICTORY! Despite assuring investors for 8 years of a major oil strike now suddenly OXY claims there is no oil in the region. Clearly the resistance of the U’wa and the pressure of the international solidarity movement demanding peace and justice in Colombia helped OXY finally see the light.

This surprise announcement was made at OXY’s May 3rd shareholders meeting in the wake of a spirited demonstration and media held outside the meeting by activists from Amazon Watch, Action Resource Center and Project Underground. As shareholders and the financial press entered the meeting, they were greeted by giant OXY soldiers carrying weapons emblazoned with American flags and "Plan Colombia" logos. The demonstration educated the shareholders about the deadly link between OXY’s operations in Colombia, US military aid and the rising body count of Colombia’s brutal civil war.

This is not the final victory for the U’wa but it is a major milestone. Guided by the spiritual leadership of their Werjayas (wise elders) the U'wa struggle for survival has become a symbol of resistance to oil exploration and corporate led globalization. Over the last 5 years, the U'wa resistance has inspired a massive international solidarity movement that has captured headlines with hundreds of peaceful demonstrations. More recently, the U'wa and their supporters have expanded their organizing to stop U.S. military aid to Colombia and illuminate the role of US energy corporations like OXY in hijacking US foreign policy in Colombia for their own ends.

It’s an important time for all the thousands of people who have taken action to support the U’wa struggle to congratulate yourself and do some CELEBRATING! Tragically in our struggles for democracy, justice and ecological sanity victories are all too rare, so don’t miss this one! Spread the word and CELEBRATE THIS IMPORTANT VICTORY!

That said, the U’wa and all the peoples of Colombia continued to be threatened by the escalating war. This week the Bush administration turned a blind eye to the human rights crisis in Colombia by providing human rights certification to the Colombian government. This certification is a requirement to release further military aid to Colombia and has been widely criticized by international human rights groups.

As Alex Arriaga, of Amnesty International USA, said "It is inexcusable for the United States to send military aid when the Colombian government has failed to adequately meet the human rights conditions placed upon U.S. aid. In 2001, there was a dramatic increase in political violence and attacks on human rights defenders. Meanwhile, impunity continues to reign for those who violate human rights, whether they are the Colombian military, paramilitary groups, the FARC, or the ELN. Without progress on meeting the benchmarks, U.S. aid will only contribute to more human rights violations and diminish hopes for peace."

In another development, sad memories were re-kindled last week when Attorney General Ashcroft indicted 6 FARC guerillas for the murders of 3 U’wa supporters in March 1999. Terrence Frietas, Ingrid Washinawatok and Lahe’ena'e Gay were kidnapped from U'wa territory by FARC guerillas and later found dead across the Venezuelan border. The Bush administration is clearly trying to use these indictments to push their agenda of expanding the so-called "War on Terrorism" to protect U.S. oil interests in Colombia. The families of the murdered victims have made statements of concern about the Bush Administration’s exploitation of their loved ones deaths.

So as we celebrate this victory remember the spirits of those who have given their lives as part of the struggle to defend the U'wa land and culture. Remember Terry, Ingrid and La’he. Remember the 3 indigenous children who were killed in February 2000 when the military attacked U’wa blockades. Remember the 20 non-combatants who are being murdered in Colombia’s war every day.

What better way to celebrate the sacrifices of so many people than to insure that as OXY pulls out of U’wa land we continue to build our movements for justice, peace and ecology. For over 500 years communities like the U’wa have fought to protect their land and way of life from waves of invaders. Now we have the opportunity to build a new type of movement with the power to move towards a global society rooted in the values of justice, peace, sustainability and respect for diversity and life in all its forms.

The U’wa will continue to need our support and we will continue to need their leadership and inspiring example as we show the oil industry that they can no longer invade pristine ecosystems, violate the rights of indigenous cultures and de-stabilize the global climate. We need to let the oil barons who have taken over the White House know that we will no longer tolerate wars for oil and that U.S. military aid to Colombia must stop!

So celebrate this victory, but stay vigilant. Our work is not done - but with each milestone, each victory, each action, each celebration we are getting closer and closer.

Keep up all the great work everyone!

In solidarity for the earth,
Patrick Reinsborough

Document last updated on Wednesday 01 August 2018

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