Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

Apropos the Colombian environment ministry's authorisation for oil exploration on Venezuela's border by Oxy -- an offshoot of the us-based Occidental -- about 4,000 U'wa tribals recently threatened to commit mass suicide. According to the community, drilling for oil supposedly inflicts wounds on 'Mother Earth', resulting in deadly consequences for the tribe as well as the region. Multinational oil companies are already active in the areas around the tribal territory. According to the constitutional court of Colombia, as a necessary consultation process with the U'wa has not taken place, there has been a violation of the Colombian constitution and convention 169 of the International Labour Organization.

Jose Cobaria, a tribal spokesperson, warned that U'was will have to take recourse to mass suicide if drilling goes ahead. Cobaria appealed to the global community for help "so that they help the white man (Oxy) understand the meaning of life of the people and animals" living on the tribal territory. Oxy estimates the oil field to be worth billions of dollars. Preliminary seismic tests indicate that the field could probably become one of the hemisphere's largest oil reserves.

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