Friends of the Earth International condemns the violent evictions carried out this week in Colombia to make way for the construction of the El Quimbo hydroelectric dam.
Police forces carried out a violent eviction of fishermen families from a non-violent sit-in on the shores of Magdalena river in front of the construction site of the hydroelectric project ‘El Quimbo’.
They left three people wounded, amongst them a young man who lost his eye due to one of the gas-canisters used by the police. The construction has seriously affected the local way of life and has has a negative impact on women and men farmers, day labourers, fishermen, traditional miners that have constructed their culture around the Magdalena river.
It has come to our attention through declarations of Asoquimbo, the local organization that represents the people affected by the project and our national organization CENSAT ‘Agua Viva’, that the fishermen and farmers have appealed to all legal actions available to them in the framework of the Political Constitution and legislation of Colombia to stop the project, due to the permanent non-compliance and irregularities of the environmental license given by the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development.
Moreover, they have requested a Public Environmental Audience, as present in the Colombian legal framework, as a means for participation, where communities can make their demands public to entities of control, government, companies and the public in general. Up until today their request has been denied.
We strongly denounce the fact that during the eviction independent media were prevented from entering the area, amongst them our correspondent of Real World Radio, medium of communication for the Federation of Friends of the Earth.
Friends of the Earth International declares:
- Its unconditional support to the women and men affected by the hydroelectric project ‘El Quimbo’ in defence of their territory and their traditional ways of life.
- Its rejection of the violent answers towards the communities that ignore the roads of dialogue Asoquimbo and local organizations have promoted during the four years of resistance against the hydroelectric project.
- To the Colombian government to urgently attend the recommendations of the World Commission on Dams, that recognised the multiple environmental impacts, and on the life and means of subsistence of communities closely tied to rivers; Approve the realisation of the Public environmental Audience requested by the local communities and guarantee the protection of the rights of the local population, directly or indirectly affected y the hydroelectric project ‘El Quimbo’.
- To the international community the importance to accompany Asoquimbo and local organizations in their valiant resistance and to support their proposal to declare the area of ‘El Quimbo’ a Rural and Agro-food Reserve.