Colombia's indigenous peoples continue to face grave threats in the era of the country's new President Juan Manual Santos. The struggle to control Colombia's lucrative natural resources—including oil and gas—has helped spur the country's decades-long civil war and is a central consideration of U.S. foreign policy for the region. Though Colombia's indigenous peoples reject the war, the fight has nonetheless placed them in the deadly crossfire. Furthermore, the militarization that accompanies oil exploitation has brought on-going human rights violations for indigenous communities and, in many cases, forced displacement from their ancestral homelands.
The U'wa indigenous people, known for their successful campaign to expel Occidental Petroleum from their territory, are still facing serious threats to their survival. The government has militarized U'wa territory in preparation for at least three mega-projects, all of which the U'wa vehemently oppose: extraction of natural gas, construction of a highway to Venezuela through the heart of the U'wa legal reserve, and expansion of a national park into sacred areas. In early 2009, Colombia's Constitutional Court listed the U'wa amongst dozens of indigenous groups at risk of extinction. Learn more »