Cumaral, Meta: Otro resultado contundente en Colombia le dice No al extractivismo

Cumaral, Meta: Another resounding victory for life, land & water in Colombia

image2

El primer domingo de este mes de Junio, el municipio colombiano de Cumaral, llevó nuevamente la decisión de que si sus habitantes quieren o no proyectos extractivos en su municipio a las urnas, tal como lo hizo Cajamarca, Tolima el pasado marzo. La victoria fue contundente, con 7,475 votos en contra y tan solo 183 votos a favor. La pregunta a sufragar fue: “¿Está usted de acuerdo, ciudadano cumaraleño, con que dentro de la jurisdicción del municipio de Cumaral (Meta) se ejecuten actividades de exploración sísmica, perforación exploratoria y producción de hidrocarburos?”. Con esto, queda claro que los Cumaraleños no quieren que se desarrollen actividades de extracción de petróleo en su territorio.

image4

A pesar de que el Meta es el departamento con mayor extracción de crudo en el país, era la primera vez que se le preguntaba a los ciudadanos si estaban de acuerdo o no con esta actividad como base de su sustento. Ni siquiera la fuerte lluvia característica de los llanos les quitó a los habitantes de este municipio las ganas de salir a participar en esta votación. Al contrario, la lluvia cayó como una bendición, pues la principal motivación de este pueblo para salir a decir no fue la protección de las fuentes hídricas. Algunos campesinos cuentan que la gran acogida del NO con el 97%, se debe a que en el 2013 otra empresa había realizado pruebas sísmicas en el municipio en la etapa de exploración, y tras estas pruebas, en diciembre de ese año, se contaron 134 deslizamientos en la vereda de Chapero Alto, donde se llevaron a cabo estas pruebas.

La victoria de Cajamarca ha tenido un efecto dominó en todo el país, a la cual se le suma la de los cumaraleños. A pesar de que en este caso, se buscaba frenar un proyecto de la multinacional China Mansarovar Energy para extraer petróleo, y en el caso de Cajamarca se trata de explotación de oro a cielo abierto, en ambos casos se está dando un mensaje contundente tanto al mundo corporativo como al gobierno nacional: queremos participar en las decisiones que afectarán nuestro futuro, y queremos un modelo de desarrollo que garantice la protección de los recursos naturales, nuestro bienestar y la de las generaciones futuras.

Se empieza a tejer una fuerte red de solidaridad en el país respecto a la defensa del territorio. Después de la masiva marcha carnaval que tuvo lugar en la ciudad de Ibagué, capital del Tolima, convocando a 120,000 personas a la calle a celebrar la protección del agua, la vida y el territorio, un grupo de 45 líderes tolimenses se montó en un bus para cruzar la cordillera oriental de los Andes y acompañar a los cumaraleños en su ejercicio de votación democrática. Llegaron el sábado en la mañana y participaron en jornadas de puerta a puerta y concientización, y el día domingo de la votación apoyaron la logística.

image3

Esta cohesión de movimientos sociales en defensa de la tierra tiene intimidado a empresas, sectores y al gobierno. La Asociación Colombiana de Petróleos, el Ministro de Minas y Energía entre otros, han salido a decir que estas decisiones no son vinculantes, que no tendrán efectos sobre el desarrollo del proyecto, y que se deben limitar estos mecanismos pues se está faltando a los compromisos comerciales que el Estado ha adquirido con las empresas. Sin embargo sentencias de la Corte Constitucional han reiterado que las consultas populares son legitimas y constitucionales. A Cajamarca y Cumaral se suman los municipios de Arbelaez y Pijao, que sostendrán sus consultas populares a principios de Julio, y muchos otros municipios, cerca de 50 que están comenzando el proceso jurídico necesario para implementar este mecanismo de participación ciudadana. El debate se aviva y los territorios se fortalecen!

image6

The people of Cumaral, Colombia, have voted to reject new oil extraction in their territory with a 97% majority. This victory is the latest in a rising tide of peaceful, democratic actions to protect land, water and life from extractivism.

By Mariana Gomez Soto, YLNM Coordinator for Latin America. 15th June 2017

image2

On the first Sunday of June 2017, citizens of the Colombian municipality of Cumaral went to the polls to decide if they want extractive projects in their territory or not, just as the people of Cajamarca, Tolim, had done in March. And, as in Cajamarca, the result was overwhelming, with 7.475 votes against and only 183 votes in favour of extractivism; a majority of 97%.

The question asked of each citizen was: “Do you, citizen of Cumaral, agree with the development of seismic exploratory activities, drilling and oil production within the jurisdiction of our Municipality of Cumaral?”. The results of the vote make it clear that the people of Cumaral do not want oil extraction activities in their territory.

Rains, oil and blessings

image4

In spite of the fact that the Meta region is a major oil extraction in the country, the vote was the first time that its citizens where asked if they agreed with these activities as the foundation of their livelihood. In particular, the vote related to plans by Chinese multinational Mansarovar Energy to begin seismic exploration in the region.

Not even the heavy rains that are characteristic of the eastern plains of Colombia could dampen the will of the people to participate in this decision on the day of the vote. On the contrary, the rain was a blessing, for the principal motivation of these peoples to say NO to more oil extraction is the protection of water sources.

Speaking after the vote, some peasants from Cumaral say that the reason behind the overwhelming majority of people rejecting further extractivism is due to the people’s firsthand experience of the dangers of pursuing extractive projects in Meta’s rainy climate.

They refer to incidents in 2013, when another company had been allowed to develop seismic explorations. After this, in December 2013, the people of Meta experienced 134 landslides in the area of Chapero Alto, where these seismic activities had taken place.

A wave of action for land, water and life

image3The people of Cajamarca’s successful popular consultation on gold mining, held in March this year, has had a ripple effect across the whole country. The people from Cumarál are continuing this trend.
Despite relating to different projects and different materials- in the case of Cajamarca the people voted to ban the open-pit gold mining project of AngloGold Ashanti- both cases are giving a strong message to the corporate world and the national government of Colombia:

We want to participate in the decisions that will affect our future, and we want a development model which guarantees the protection of natural resources, our wellbeing and that of future generations.

A strong solidarity network is building across Colombia for the defence of precious territories. After the massive Marcha Carnaval that took place in Ibagué, the capital city of Tolima, calling over 120,000 people to the streets to celebrate the protection of water, life and territory, a group of 45 leaders from the Tolima region hopped on a bus to cross the Eastern Cordillera and support Cumaral in their democratic exercise. They reached the town on Saturday morning and participated on door-to-door awareness raising activities, and then, on Sunday, they supported the logistics in the voting spots.

This cohesion of social movements in defense of territory is intimidating extractive companies and governments. The Colombian Oil Association and the Minister of Mines and Energy, amongst others, have said that these decisions are not binding, that they will not have effects on the development of the project and that these participation mechanisms have to be limited by the government because they are making the State fail in its commercial commitments with the companies.

Nonetheless, rulings from the Constitutional Court of Colombia have reiterated that popular consultations are legitimate, democratic and constitutional. In early July the municipalities of Arbelaez and Pijao will join Cajamarca y Cumaral, in holding their own popular consultations, and many other municipalities will too.

In fact, around 50 municipalities have now begun the juridical process required for them to hold their own popular consultations on the future of their territories.

Territories are being strengthened, and the debate over who should decide their future is spreading!

image6


 

Find out more

 

Related Posts

Press-release on the Outrage against environmental leaders in Cajamarca, Colombia – By the Youth Socio-environmental collective group of Cajamarca COSAJUCA 
Jericó and Támesis: Colombian municipalities find new ways to stay mining-free
Cumaral, Meta: Another resounding victory for life, land & water in Colombia
Trun: Bulgarian town backs gold mining ban in referendum
POLITICAL DECLARATION FOR THE IX MARCHA CARNAVAL IN DEFENSE OF WATER, LIFE AND TERRITORY
SOUTHWEST ANTIOQUIA, COLOMBIA, IN ALERT FOR LARGE-SCALE MINING
Cumarál to hold popular consultation on oil extraction in Andes foothills
A New Spill of Cyanide Solution in Jáchal, Argentina takes villagers to request a Popular Consultation
Colossal Result in Cajamarca, Colombia Regarding Mining: building on the debate
Cajamarca: Central Colombian town bans ‘world’s largest open pit goldmine’
Cabrera: New Popular Consultation wins over mining in Colombia
NETWORK OF ENVIRONMENTAL COMMITTEES IN TOLIMA CALLS FOR INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT OVER DEATH THREATS
Ibagué will be the first city in the world to take mining to public scrutiny
To Mine or not to Mine, that is the Question – Referendum in Tolima, Colombia
Yes to Life, No to Mining participates in the workshop “Mining and Energy Multinational Companies Strategies and Participation Mechanisms for Communities Defending their Territory” – Caquetá, Colombia
Community Consent Index 2015
The right to say “No”: Indigenous rights experts on FPIC
A Guide for the Defense of Water
YLNM Global Solidarity Network promotes the Great Carnival Parade in Colombia
Se plantea una Consulta Comunitaria para decir no a la minería en Pacto, Ecuador

3 Reader Comments

Start a Conversation. Share Words of Solidarity.

This website is about building a movement. We can only build a movement when we connect with one another. We invite you to do just that…

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *