September 22nd, 2023
The Union of People Affected by Texaco Operations (UDAPT) has denounced the violent use of force in the communities of Parroquia 10 de Agosto in the Lago Agrio Canton, where the Charapa (Block 50) and Chanangué (Block 51) blocks are operating by the Canadian subsidiary Gran Tierra Energy Colombia LLC.
On September 15th, when the Santa Marianita community was carrying out a peaceful mobilization against the Gran Tierra Energy company, a group of more than 30 police officers entered and threw tear gas bombs and other objects at the community, including at the places where dozens of children were playing. The mobilization demanded social compensation agreements for 126 inhabitants and demanded the delivery of jobs and against the contamination of their lands and environment, among others. The community members denounce that the use of public force was carried out through an «urgent act» in the Attorney General’s Office. The lawyers of UDAPT point out that the repression has not stopped.
With these actions, the State fails to comply with its obligation to guarantee defenders a safe environment in which to carry out their work, turns the public forces into private guards of the companies in the territories, harasses communities that resist dangerous and unconsulted extractive projects in their territories, and abusively uses criminal law to intimidate and even affect children, pregnant women, and elderly people in the communities.
UDAPT, the Alianza de Organizaciones por los Derechos Humanos del Ecuador and more than 50 organizations and communities affected by the conduct of Canadian companies in Latin America and the Caribbean informed the international community of the abuses of Gran Tierra Energy, as one of the 37 projects that violate rights in 9 countries in the region prior to the fourth cycle of the Universal Periodic Review of Canada. In this process before the United Nations Human Rights Council, we have been demonstrating that this Canadian company has violated human rights and the environment in Ecuador, Colombia and Peru.
In the international complaint we point out that blocks 50 (Charapa), 51 (Chanangue) and 89 (Iguana) overlap with the titled territories of the Kichwa and Awá indigenous peoples and farmers communities.
These blocks were awarded without the required consultation and consent of indigenous peoples and farmers communities, without environmental consultation with the general population and without basic respect for human dignity, as farmers have denounced. The mere socializations and agreements that companies obtain with gifts to certain members and then do not even comply with do not constitute due respect on the part of the company for the rights recognized in Ecuador. Nor do they demonstrate Canada’s compliance with its extraterritorial human rights obligations; quite the contrary.
The communities affected by the operation of Gran Tierra Energy, together with the UDAPT and allied organizations, have made public their concerns about the impacts on the environment and communities due to the operation of Blocks 50, 51 and 89. The entry of the oil company In that area, the lives of these communities have changed for the worse. The most serious thing that is currently happening, in addition to environmental pollution, is the breakdown of the social fabric. The same oil company, with the complicity of the State, is promoting an environment of internal violence, which could lead to actions similar to those that occurred in the Cofan Dureno community. On the other hand, oil activities necessarily involve contamination of water, soil and air -by the installation of Gas Flaring System near the towns-; loss of biodiversity among other effects.
- To the acting President, Guillermo Lasso, to guarantee the rights of the communities and the work of the rights defenders who are resisting the Gran Tierra Energy company; to stop the operations of the public forces that cause panic in the population and to guarantee the security of the communities of Blocks 50 (Charapa), 51(Chanangue) and 89 (Iguana) where the Canadian company operates.
- To the State Attorney General’s Office, to refrain from authorizing «urgent acts» at the request of the extractive companies to attack communities that are fighting for the fulfillment of constitutional rights and all those derived from human dignity. That in any intervention it respects and guarantees the rights of the defenders.
- To the Minister of Environment, Water and Ecological Transition (MAATE – in spanish), José Antonio Dávalos, to urgently conduct a comprehensive and detailed audit of the permits granted to Gran Tierra Energy, to verify the validity of its Environmental Impact Study and environmental licensing authorization process.
- To the Canadian Ambassador to Ecuador, Stephen Potter, to initiate an investigation into the irregularities denounced in the regional report on Gran Tierra Energy.
- Likewise to Canada, in application of its own «Voices at Risk» policy and within the framework of the Canadian Guidelines for the Support of Human Rights Defenders, to take effective measures to ensure that Gran Tierra Energy immediately ceases its tactics of community division, harassment and persecution of community leaders and human rights defenders.
- We hold Gran Tierra Energy, the Canadian State and the Ecuadorian State responsible for any violence that may occur within each community. They are the ones who have encouraged and promoted the division in each of the communities, to the point of promoting physical aggression against each other.
The farmers point out that in addition to the water and air pollution, there is also noise pollution, evident in places near the platform built in the Santa Marianita comunity. The noise would exceed the decibel levels and would permanently affect several surrounding areas; especially, to agricultural areas. For the above reasons, from the Alliance of Human Rights Organizations of Ecuador and the organizations that are part of it, we demand: