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Colombian environmental leader denounces death threats and forced to leave the country

Yuvelis Natalia Morales / Photo: supplied By: Redacción BLU Radio Santander

Two other women, a fishermen’s representative and a teacher denounce threats for opposing fracking projects.

February 21, 2022

In the middle of a press conference of the Fracking Free Colombia Alliance, three women from the municipality of Puerto Wilches, denounced the death threats they have been victims of in recent months for opposing fracking projects in this municipality of Santander.

One of the women denouncing death threats is Yuvelis Natalia Morales, a youth councillor from Puerto Wilches, who left the country three days ago and remains in Paris, France, after several persecutions by armed men.

“It is impossible for me to believe that in the midst of death threats and persecution I had to run away because they have stigmatised us, they have told us that we can’t do anything and that fracking in Puerto Wilches goes because it goes”, said the environmental leader who also assured that she has been receiving death threats for a year.

“There is no right that for defending the environment and for opposing these fracking projects we have to run out of the house at dawn with a bullet vest and bodyguards, feeling afraid when we are in our own house; armed men who come to our house to defend our territory”, said Morales.

Carolina Agón, president of the Fishermen’s Association in Puerto Wilches, also denounces death threats against her and difficulties in promoting the defence of the environment.

“There are no guarantees of participation, Puerto Wilches is not prepared for fracking, there are no roads, there is no hospital. What is going to happen to Puerto Wilches if we are behind a company that does not care about Puerto Wilches,” Agón said.

Since 2019, Oneida Suárez, anti-fracking activist, coordinator of the Fracking-Free Colombia Alliance and teacher, has been denouncing death threats against her.

“Because of the threats I had to leave the municipality of Carmen de Chucurí and now I am in San Vicente, but saying no to fracking. We feel threatened, I was threatened on 15 February in a text message saying that it is better for me to keep quiet”, said Suárez.

According to the environmental leaders, the communiqués issued by Ecopetrol denouncing stigmatisation also provoked threats.

In a statement on 11 February, Ecopetrol rejected allegations of responsibility for death threats to social leaders in Magdalena Medio.

“Ecopetrol rejects the allegations recently issued, through a statement by the Colombia Free Fracking Alliance, in which it accused us of making false accusations about what happened in the development of the information meeting of the Kalé project and is responsible for the threats to social leaders in Magdalena Medio,” said Ecopetrol.

“The company rejects any action that violates human rights and, in line with the provisions of its Code of Ethics and Conduct and its Human Rights Guide, ratifies its commitment to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights,” reads a part of the statement.

This was the press conference in which women environmental leaders denounced the death threats against them for opposing fracking projects in Santander.

By Redacción BLU Radio Santander

Translation by Colombian Solidarity Campaign

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