Eight Arrested for Shutting down Gore's New Hampshire Campaign HQ Environmentalists Target VP for Ties to Oxy's Colombia Oil Project

ACERCA ~ AMAZON WATCH NATIVE FOREST NETWORK ~ RAINFOREST ACTION NETWORK

For more information, contact:

Ada Recinos at +1.510.473.7542 or ada@amazonwatch.org


Manchester NH - Eight environmental and human rights activists were arrested around 1:00 p.m. today for staging a sit-in at the Gore campaign headquarters in Manchester. Supported by dozens of demonstrators outside, activists engaged in civil disobedience calling on Gore to use his deep family and financial ties to Occidental Petroleum to block the company's planned drilling on the U'wa tribal lands in the Colombian cloud forest.

The U'wa people, who are the legal owners of the land where Occidental plans to drill, are so opposed to the project that they have repeatedly stated their willing to die defending their land from the oil project. Last week, a large number of Colombian troops were sent to secure this area so that Occidental can begin drilling. Yesterday, the Colombian Army forcibly evicted the U’wa from their land via helicopters. Three U’wa people are now reported missing.(U'wa Communique Jan 25 2000)

Vice President Gore's ties to Occidental Petroleum have come under intense public scrutiny in recent weeks. Articles in the Financial Times, Time Magazine, Salon Magazine, and The Wall St. Journal have all questioned Gore's deep connections to Oxy. Gore holds some $500,000 in stocks and, and stands to reap large financial rewards if Oxy finds the 1.5 billion barrels of oil that the company estimates is under U’wa land. Oxy and its employees are also frequent and generous contributors to both the Gore campaign and to the Democratic party.


"Gore can make the difference. He can save the U'wa and avert a public relations disaster for himself by intervening now," said Lauren Sullivan of the Rainforest Action Network.

The conflict in Colombia is intensifying for the peaceful U'wa tribe. According to a communiqué issued by the U'wa people and information from the Colombian military, since January 19, at least 500 – and as many as several thousand – Colombian soldiers have been occupying an area of the traditional territory to which the U'wa have recently gained legal title. Yesterday, soldiers forcibly removed dozens of U’wa men, women, children, and elders who had been occupying the site since mid-November.


"We prefer genocide at the hands of the Colombian government over relinquishing our Mother Earth to the oil companies," states the U'wa communiqué. U’wa leaders have vowed to continue to nonviolently fight Oxy’s efforts to drill on their land.

In recent weeks, Gore campaign offices have been flooded by calls of concern about Gore's connection to Occidental and the planned drilling on U'wa lands. Dozens of human rights and environmental organizations have sent letters to Gore, including the Sierra Club. Additional protests are planned at future Gore campaign stops in the coming days. For more information, contacts above, or: www.ran.org ; www.amazonwatch.org.


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