On February 20, the Alliance for a Colombia Free of Fracking tweeted: “COMPLAINT: 3 days ago, Yuvelis Natalia Morales, Youth Counselor of Puerto Wilches, member of Aguawil [the Committee for the Defence of Water, Life and Territory of Puerto Wilches] and the @ColombiaNoFrack Alliance left the country due to threats against her, due to her activism against the fracking pilots of [Colombian president] @IvanDuque and [the state oil company] @ECOPETROL_SA.”
Their Twitter thread continues:
“Yuvelis Natalia received the first threats a year ago [on January 29, 2021, when she was 20-years-old], after intervening in a hearing on fracking in the Congress of the Republic, when she was approached by two men in her home in Puerto Wilches, which led us to remove her from her territory for several months.
These threats have returned in recent days, after his leadership in a peaceful sit-in against the hearing of the @ANLA_Col [the National Environmental Licensing Agency] about the fracking pilot Kalé, and the false public accusations by @ECOPETROL_SA that stigmatized those of us who were there.
Given the seriousness of the latest events, the negligence and inability of the government of @IvanDuque to protect her life, our colleague left the country as an emergency within the framework of the “Marianne Initiative” of the President of France, @EmmanuelMacron, whom we thank.
This is added to threats through pamphlets, messages and calls to members of various organizations of the @ColombiaNoFrack Alliance, which forced three other people to leave Puerto Wilches and Barrancabermeja in the last week.
From the @ColombiaNoFrack Alliance we fear for the life and integrity of environmental defenders, even more so when this Tuesday [February 22] we will protest again against the Hearing of the @ANLA_Col and @ECOPETROL_SA, in addition to other legal and advocacy actions that we will develop.
We demand that the government of @IvanDuque take the necessary measures to guarantee our life and integrity, as well as [Minister of Mines and Energy] @DiegoMesaP, [Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development] @CarlosECorreaE, and [Director of the National Environmental Licensing Authority] @RodSuarezCa immediately suspend the fracking pilot projects that are advancing today amid fear and persecution.
We publicly hold the state company @ECOPETROL_SA responsible for any violent action against our compañeras, which may derive from their stigmatization of our work and their complicit silence in the face of what has been happening against the members of the Alliance.
We ask human rights organizations and the international community to support the work of our colleagues Yuvelis Morales, [Alliance for a Colombia Free of Fracking member] Oneida Suárez, [vice president of the Fishermen’s Federation] Carolina Agón, [CRY-GEAM activist] Oscar Sampayo, [Federation of Artisanal Fishers and Environmentalists of Santander/FEDEPESAN representative] Yuli Velasquez, [Corporation for the Defense of Water, Territory and Ecosystems/CORDATEC activist] Carlos Santiago and many other people, today at risk for defending water and the environment.”
CREDHOS accompanies AGUAWIL
PBI-Colombia accompanied CREDHOS has retweeted the Twitter thread above and commented: “We reject the threats to environmental leaders in Magdalena Medio, such as Credhos and the Regional Coordination for the Defense of Water, Territory and Dignified Life. We demand guarantees for the work of defending the environment.”
Threatened defenders on PBI-Canada webinar
Yuvelis, Oscar and Yuli spoke on this PBI-Canada organized webinar in April 2021 along with CREDHOS president Ivan Madero, Above Ground director Karen Hamilton and PBI-Canada Board member Luis van Isschot.
At that webinar, Yuvelis stated: “We have highlighted the impacts of fracking on not only the environment, but also the health of the people. And when AguaWil became more visible, and didn’t disappear, when we became a problem for the oil companies, those interested in promoting fracking and its economic benefits, they started to threaten, stigmatize, and silence us. More than eight of our youth have been threatened.”
She also noted: “We have a constitutional right to a healthy environment, but the government is not interesting in hearing the communities because we are a problem for them, they aren’t interested in listening to young people. But we will keep fighting.”