Colombia’s U’wa Tribal Leaders to Address Oxy Executives at Company’s Annual Meeting Tomorrow Press Conference at 9:30 am and Public Rally from 11:30 to 1:00 pm PHOTO OPPORTUNITY -- Photos, B-Roll Video Footage (Beta) Available Upon Request --


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Santa Monica, CA - U’wa tribal leaders Berito Kuwaru’wa and Roberto Perez have come to Los Angeles from the rainforest of Colombia in order to attend the company’s annual meeting on Friday, April 30. The U’wa, a traditional community of 5,000 Indigenous people who live in the Colombian cloud forest, have vowed to commit mass suicide if Occidental Petroleum drills on their sacred ancestral homeland.

Concerned shareholders led by the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters are sponsoring a resolution to be considered at the company’s annual meeting. Last month, three Americans who were helping the U’wa were kidnapped and murdered by rebels. Among the slain was Terence Freitas, the 24-year old Los Angeles activist who coordinated the U’wa Defense Working Group. Freitas had worked with the Sinsinawa Dominicans on this resolution.

"Oxy’s management is not responding to public pressure. Now, the major shareholders of Occidental must get involved," said Atossa Soltani, the Director of Amazon Watch. "These include Merrill Lynch, Fidelity, Vanguard, BZW Barclays and Prudential, among others – all of whom could face public relations back lash over their investments in this oil project."

Yesterday, two hundred human rights and environmental activists marched through the streets of Los Angeles to protest Occidental’s proposed oil project. Twenty demonstrators were arrested directly in front of Occidental’s Westwood offices on Wilshire Blvd. On April 30, protests are simultaneously being organized in ten U.S. cities as well as in cities in Colombia, Peru, Canada, among others. In Washington, D.C., the Colombian Ambassador to the U.S. is meeting with human rights and Indigenous leaders.

Who: Leaders from the U’wa Tribe and Leaders of the U’wa Defense Working Group
Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters (Occidental shareholders)
Julie Freitas, (mother of Terence Freitas, the activist killed in Colombia on March 4)
Native American Leaders from around the United States
Michael Feinstein, Councilmember, City of Santa Monica
Over 100 concerned citizens and students from local elementary and high schools

When: April 30, 1999 from 9:30 am to 1:00 pm

What: Press Conference begins 9:30 am Shareholder Meeting begins 10:30 am
Demonstration / Rally from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm

Rally will include: Native American drumming and singing, Aztec Dancers, prayer flags for peace made by hundreds of school children, a 30-foot long scroll containing a message to Dr. Irani, CEO of Occidental Petroleum delivered by dozens of Southland school children.

Where: Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 1855 Main St., Santa Monica, California

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UWA Defense Working Group: Action Resource Center, Amazon Watch, EarthJustice Legal Defense Fund, Earth Ways Foundation, Indigenous Environmental Network, HEED, Project Underground, Rainforest Action Network, Sol Communications

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