Bogota D.C., July 22, 2020
CARLOS ALFONSO NEGRET MOSQUERA
Carrera 9 No. 16-21
Subject: Early Warning No. 1: Risks of human rights abuses in Puerto Asis
Dear Dr. Negret,
Please accept our warmest regards. As you are aware, Amerisur Exploracion Colombia Limitada is the operator of the Platanillo block, located in the municipality of Puerto Asis, Putumayo. Due to the public order situation that has arisen in the area around our operation, we have the responsibility to present this Early Warning to detail the latest developments that may constitute human rights abuses among our communities, our workers and our contractors.
- According to information provided by leaders and representatives of the villages in the Platanillo block area of influence, such as La Rosa, Mansoya, Sevilla, Peneya, Monteverde, Montebello, El Aguila, El Picudo and Agua Longo, Residual Organized Armed Groups (GAOR) have instructed the communities to: i) oppose the eradication of illicit crops being carried out by Law Enforcement authorities in the area, ii) block the Company’s hydrocarbon exploration and production operations to exert pressure on the National Government and as a strategy to facilitate their mobility in the area, iii) change the directors of the Community Action Boards and thus void the dates established by the Ministry of the Interior for these elections (there are already new Community Action Boards as a result of this) and, iv) “behave well,” suggesting that if they do not do so there will be reprisals. In these meetings, the GAOR also refer to:
a. Possible attacks on infrastructure within the Platanillo block to disrupt connectivity by land between its platforms.
b. The possible detention of Amerisur officials to send messages or demands to the Company. It is important to note that there are Amerisur employees and contractors whose work requires them to travel outside the Block facilities.
c. The possible installation of land mines to attack and intimidate Law Enforcement authorities and Amerisur employees who carry out operations in the area. To pressure communities, GAORs are promoting impromptu processes to elect new chairpersons of the Community Action Boards in villages in the Platanillo Block area of influence.
- On July 14, a worker from the Amerisur Social Responsibility area received a message from supposed members of a GAOR, summoning the worker to a meeting without specifying the specific reason (Annex 1. transcript).
- At 7:30 p.m. on the same date, a Company worker saw what appeared to be a drone flying over Platform 9 of the Platanillo block in the village of La Rosa in Puerto Asis municipality. According to the worker’s testimony, the drone flew over the platform for 8 minutes and later moved south towards the Putumayo River. It should be noted that the exit point of the Amerisur Binational Pipeline -OBA- is in this facility. The pipeline crosses the Putumayo River and connects with oil sector infrastructure of the Republic of Ecuador, specifically the Victor Hugo Ruales (VHR) oil field operated by Petroamazonas EP.
- Pressure exerted by GAORs has led to the Company suffering repeated roadblocks on public roads that connect the different platforms in the Platanillo block. Under the pretext of issues such as greater labor participation, Covid in operations and increased hiring of local vehicles, some community leaders -mainly from the new Community Action Boards- make a variety of demands despite previous conversations and agreements established with their communities.
Since the World Health Organization declared the pandemic, Amerisur has defined and followed strict protocols in its operations to reduce the risk of contagion. These protocols, in addition to compliance with the guidelines issued by National, Regional and Local Government, include but are not limited to extending work shifts to limit staff turnover, health self-assessments, taking temperatures periodically, mandatory social distancing, greater cleaning and disinfection, restricting the entry of visitors, and taking PCR tests before outside workers enter the field.
Furthermore, in coordination with the Puerto Asis Mayor’s Office we have supported the Municipal Hospital to improve its infrastructure for the care of Covid cases and we have donated antigen tests and material for preventative measures and to care for health personnel in Puerto Asis. Likewise, to take care of our neighbors, we have established three Covid prevention points on the road between Puerto Asis and the Platanillo block with symptoms checks and vehicle disinfection for the benefit of general road users. The Puerto Asis Health Department has verified that these preventive measures by the Company are in place.
Based on the above and aware of the essential role played by the Ombudsman’s Office in dealing with this type of Early Alerts, we appreciate the support that your Office can provide to civil society and the Company. To coordinate actions, at Amerisur Norma Sanchez is the point of contact, and is available at email address firstname.lastname@example.org.