READ PETITION UNDERNEATH
My name is %first_name% %last_name% and I am writing to you today due to the human rights and environmental violations that are affecting the families living in the villages of Nueva Venezia and La Unión, district of El Llanito, Barrancabermeja – Santander. Ever since the beginning of the construction of Barrancabermeja’s multimodal port by IMPALA TERMINALS, group Trafigura, their lands have suffered from erosion and floods, causing the loss of their crops, the decrease of fishing activities and the contamination of drinking water.
In the years following the construction of the multimodal port, families have presented multiple complaints, petitions and demands before the regional and public authorities due to the threat this project represents for their permanence in their territory. Their demand for relocation was ignored and authorities have failed to attend consultation meetings with the affected communities. On the other hand, multinational company Impala Terminals, and through them the Trafigura group, deny any responsibility for the degradation of private property and environmental degradation that is occuring, claiming that it is a natural phenomenon.
By 2020, most families were left with no land to live on and no means of subsistence, and many were forcibly displaced to the city of Barrancabermeja and the municipality of Yondó, in the department of Antioquia. This has deprived these families of livelihood opportunities and increased their situation of extreme poverty. Furthermore, many had bank loans that they had contracted to farm on land that today no longer exists…
I come to you all with the hope that this population will obtain the necessary help that by constitutional and legal obligation competent authorities and entities need to provide. Relocation, employment, livelihood, education for children, care for the elderly, and everything that is their right as subjects of special constitutional protection.
Furthermore, I wish to notify you that I will be monitoring this case, to ensure that human rights are respected and that these affected families will be relocated following the destruction of their territories by the Swiss multinational IMPALA TERMINALS. This company is responsible and obligated to comply with environmental management plans and licenses granted by Colombia’s environmental authorities. To date, neither IMPALA TERMINALS nor the regional environmental authority, CORMAGDALENA, have been willing to sit down and talk with these communities.
It is incomprehensible that in an area where one of Colombia’s biggest mega-project is being implemented to supposedly contribute economically to the region and benefit the nation, such a small and vulnerable population has to bear the social, economic, cultural and ecological impacts that seems to only benefit foreign private companies and the Colombian State.
Finally, I would like to express that the communities of La Unión and Nueva Venezia are not alone as they count with the support of Colombian citizens, and foreigners, to help them obtain the respect of their fundamental rights.