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Colombian human-rights group opposes fracking, seeks to protect freshwater

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Regional Corporation for the Defence of Human Rights or CREDHOS. Photo: Peace Brigades International.

The community-based Corporación Regional de Derechos Humanos (the Regional Corporation for the Defence of Human Rights or CREDHOS) works on a variety of public interest concerns in Colombia, including environmental issues such as opposition to fracking and stopping the pollution of freshwater.

The organization is based in Barrancabermeja, which is known as the oil capital of Colombia.

In 2017, Colombia produced on average more than 850,000 barrels of oil per day. The country has four refineries for domestic and export markets. The largest refinery -- with the capacity to refine about 250,000 barrels of oil per day -- is in Barrancabermeja.

Notably, CREDHOS has been supporting the case of Dr. Yesid Blanco.

The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre notes that, "Dr. Blanco is a recognized environmentalist and founder of the Yariguíes Regional Corporation and the Magdalena Medio Extractive and Environmental Studies Group-GEAM in the city of Barrancabermeja."

It adds, "The ecologist and environmental activist and doctor has made important contributions to the study of the impacts on the health of children in Barrancabermeja [and] has denounced cases of corruption behind the management of water in Barrancabermeja."

It also notes, "[Dr. Blanco] has made a strong opposition to extractive projects such as fracking that are intended to be established in the Magdalena Medio blocks."

Magdalena Medio is an extensive valley in central Colombia formed in part by the Magdalena River. Part of the valley is situated in Santander, the department (province) in which the city of Barrancabermeja is located.

This past February, Colombia Reports noted, "There are, in fact, two fracking exploration projects already underway in the Magdalena Medio region of Colombia."

And just last month Reuters reported that Mines and Energy Minister Maria Fernanda Suarez had stated that fracking could triple the country's reserves of crude oil and gas.

Numbers vary, but Greenpeace has noted it can take two to 10 million gallons of water every time a well is fracked. And the Watershed Sentinel adds, "The disposal of wastewater, which contains widely differing amounts of salts, radioactive traces, minerals, and assorted mostly toxic chemicals is also difficult, requiring either disposal or treatment and re-use."

CREDHOS is also a member of the Alianza Colombia libre de Fracking (the Alliance for a Colombia Free of Fracking).

That alliance has highlighted, as noted by War on Want, that fracking is "in violation of Colombian constitutional principles that guarantee citizens the right to life, the right to water, and the right to a healthy environment."

The Corporación Colectivo de Abogados Luis Carlos Pérez (the Luis Carlos Perez Lawyer's Collective or CCALCP) is also a member of the alliance.

CCALCP has challenged a proposed fracking project in San Martin, a municipality in the department of Southern Cesar (situated just north of Santander), led by ConocoPhillips and CNE Oil & Gas, the Bogota-based subsidiary of Calgary-based Canacol Energy Ltd.

Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project has provided protective accompaniment to CREDHOS since 1994 and CCALCP since 2006.

Brent Patterson is a political activist and writer.

For more on this, please see the rabble blog Women's legal collective works to stop Canadian fracking in Colombia.

Photo: Peace Brigades International. 

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