Photo: Jani Silva, November 2021.

In May 2016, The Guardian reported: “[Colombian environmental defender Jani] Silva says she has seen firsthand the effects of big business in Putumayo, where, she believes, oil companies ‘exploit irresponsibly’ and contaminate the environment despite legal protection granted by courts to the Amazon peasant farmer reserve zone.”

In that article, Silva is quoted saying: “When I go to other places where the businesses are, and I see only oil and contamination, that is very painful.”

Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli of WOLA has also written: “Oil slicks pollute the soil and drinking water of hundreds of farmers, animals, and plants, which is why Silva has campaigned for years against oil extraction.”

Ecopetrol/Amerisur overlap the Reserve Zone

PBI-Colombia has also highlighted that “one of the great challenges” the Perla Amazónica Peasant Reserve Zone (ZRCPA) in the department of Putumayo “has faced has been the arrival and expansion of oil companies.”

Amnesty International has specified: “[Silva’s] work has placed her at loggerheads with the Ecopetrol oil company, which won a license to operate in areas overlapping with the reserve in 2006. In 2009, the license was transferred to the Amerisur oil company. Since then, at least two oil spills have poisoned the water sources that local communities depend on.”

Agenda Propia has also explained: “In the 22,000-hectare reserve, Jani and her community have a 4,632-hectare headache in Alea called Amerisur.”

It adds: “The company first applied for an environmental license in 2017, for 936 hectares, then applied for four thousand more two years later.”

In 2019, the Platanillo block (that the Organization of American States says “allegedly overlaps the Reserve Zone”) produced 1,369,440 barrels of oil.