Pacifist groups demonstrated on Monday against the Occidental oil company, which they accused of benefiting from and actively participating in Colombia's armed conflict. With placards that read "Oil, our other Colombian addiction" and "The U.S. gives the arms, Colombia provides the dead" some 200 activists marched on the headquarters of Occidental Petroleum in Los Angeles.
"Occidental Petroleum has succeeded in hijacking US policy on Colombia, and asking US tax payers to foot the bill, while innocent Colombians pay with their lives", asserted Kevin Koening, of Amazon Watch, one of the protest organisers According to Koening, Occidental has pressured the US government to give more military aid to the Colombian Army in order to protect the company's oil pipeline and installations, "About $88 million of US aid was granted last month and the Bush administration is planning a further $110 million next year to protect the pipeline".
Occidental has close relations with the 18th Battalion of the Air Force, say the pacifists. "Oil continues to be a magnet for violence in Colombia and the world over, and US policy is poking the fire" .
El Tiempo 24th March 2003