Full-page New York Times Ad Warns Investors: Occidental’s Amazon Oil Project is a "Death Sentence" for the U’wa Tribe


For more information, contact:

Ada Recinos at +1.510.473.7542 or ada@amazonwatch.org

In a full-page ad appearing in the New York Times today, an international coalition of twenty-seven environmental, human rights, and religious organization warned that Occidental Petroleum’s "Samoré" oil project is a death sentence for the U’wa people. The U’wa, a traditional community of 5,000 indigenous people who live in the Colombian cloudforest, have vowed to commit mass-suicide if Occidental Petroleum (Oxy) drills on their sacred ancestral homelands.

The timing of the ad is related to the recent announcement by Shell, Occidental’s financial partner in the Colombian oil project that it is seeking to sell its 37.5 percent interest in the Samoré project and that Oxy is looking for new partners. According to industry reports, Chevron is eyeing this investment.

The ad warns investors of the political and ecological risks of this project: "U’wa territory will not be spared the oil wars raging in the nearby Arauca area, where a violent attack on Oxy’s pipeline occurs every eight days. Meanwhile, those familiar with U’wa culture warn that their suicide pact must be taken seriously. U’wa oral histories recount an event four hundred years ago, when an U’wa band leaped from a cliff rather than submit to the Conquistadors."

The ad is part of a larger effort to generate awareness among Oxy shareholders leading up to Occidental Petroleum’s annual stockholders meeting on May 1st in Santa Monica, CA. In addition to the ad, the coalition is sending information packets urging top Occidental shareholders to help avert a serious tragedy by expressing their concerns to Ray Irani, the CEO of Oxy.

The public is urged to help avert the annihilation of the U’wa by sending in their concerns to the company, the Colombian government, and to Al Gore, Jr.. Why the Vice President? The ad explains: "This is not only because he has a reputation for being concerned about the environment, but also because his father, former Senator Albert Gore, Sr., sits on the board of directors of Occidental Petroleum."

The U’wa believe that their land is sacred and to allow oil exploitation would upset the balance of the world. In the words of the U’wa "Oil is the blood of Mother Earth...to take the oil is for us, worse than killing your own mother. The Samoré oil block is estimated to contain 1.5 billion barrels of oil. The ad was endorsed by the Sierra Club, the National Wildlife Federation, Friends of the Earth, Oilwatch, Oxfam-America, Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, and the Sinsinawa Dominican Church, Center for International Environmental Law, and others.

# # #

Share & Comment

Related Multimedia


Yes, I will donate to protect the Amazon!

"The work you do is vital, and I am happy to support it."
– Charlotte R. A.