After 18 years production, the oil workers union is still not recognised by BP.
If implemented, Browne’s report will in one stroke both wipe out the chance of higher education for millions of young people and the prospects for critical studies in the humanities and social sciences, all in the name of ‘the economy’. Students rallying against tuition fee increases recommended by Lord Browne should know what we are dealing with. He was for nine years chief executive of oil multinational BP and as such he personifies the ugly face of British corporate capitalism. His father worked for Anglo-Persian Oil which changed its name to British Petroleum after backing the CIA inspired coup in Iran in 1953. The coup ousted Prime Minister Mossadegh who, following popular demand, had nationalised his country’s oil. With Mosaddegh killed, and the compliant dictator Shah of Iran installed, BP was once again the main beneficiary of Iran’s oil.
By the time Browne rose through the ranks to become the group’s chief executive in 1998, BP was reeling from the scandal of its operations in Casanare, Colombia. A TV programme BP’s Secret Soldiers revealed a web of dirty business, including that the corporation was passing to the police intelligence on community leaders, who were subsequently assassinated. In all, mostly during Browne’s reign, three thousand Colombians were ‘disappeared’ in the oil producing region, gripped in a regime of military and paramilitary terror. Browne’s response to the outrage was not to address the fundamental issue, but to rebrand the corporation as green and ‘beyond petroleum’. Alaskan pipeline spills, Texas refinery explosion and the Mexican Gulf leak later, so much for green.
Today BP is selling off its Colombia assets, to pay up for the Mexican Gulf damage. But who will pay for the lost lives, for the lost rivers and twenty years of destruction in Casanare? Nor is this the end of the atrocious saga of British corporations’ complicity in human rights violations in Colombia. Coal and now especially gold mining corporations are violently forcing people off their territory.
No one voted for Baron Browne. He was appointed to the Lords and to head this inquiry by the previous Labour government. His accountability is not to the people but to the needs of big business. We appeal to the youth and students taking a stand against fees increases to support the Colombian people fighting against the multinational corporations that are a curse on their land.
The Colombia Solidarity Campaign has members all over the country and groups in several cities. For more information: visit our website www.colombiasolidarity.org.uk or write to us at email: firstname.lastname@example.org