No blood for oil!

A small but resolute group of people distributed up to 1000 leaflets on 3 February, mainly to Fidelity workers. Two majestic banners were unfurled: "NO BLOOD FOR OIL" and "5000 U'WA LIVES AT STAKE/FATALITY INVESTMENTS". There was a very strong police presence but no arrests. The doors and windows of the office were boarded up and we can be pretty sure that every worker there has a fair idea of what the U'wa issue is all about. A local Colombian cafe owner came over to express support and took a load of leaflets for his clientele, many of which will work for Fidelity with any luck.

Interestingly, we had a long conversation with an employee of the UK counterpart of Fidelity, which he said had little to do with the US version and no influence over their investment decisions. He said there was no record of there being any UK FI investment in Occidental as of 1.1.99. The guy also insisted that it was impossible to have any ethical investment criteria when everyone's idea of what is ethical is so different. He also thought we should rely on democratic governments to sort such things out on our behalf!

Photo: one of the pickets and a bit of banner
Photo © Nick Cobbing

Press Release from Reclaim the Streets (London)
For immediate use

Reclaim the Streets return to City saying "No blood for oil"

Global action against Fidelity Investments shows solidarity with defiant U'wa Indians of Colombia who will commit mass suicide if their land is pillaged for oil.

The meeting place for the London action was Fidelity's UK head office at 25 Lovat Lane, London EC3, at 8:30am on Thursday February 3rd.

Reclaim the Streets (RTS) are set to return to the City of London this Thursday (3rd February) for an action in solidarity with the U'wa tribe of Colombia. The U'wa are defending their ancestral lands from oil exploration by the US company Occidental. The biggest worldwide shareholder in Occidental is Fidelity Investments (owning about 10%). Fidelity's UK base is in Lovat Lane, EC3, in the heart of the City. Feb 3rd is a date set by the U'wa for solidarity actions to take place all over the world. RTS wll be focussing on Fidelity on February 3rd and beyond. (Last week the campaign office of US Vice President Al Gore was occupied in protest at his $500,000 stake in Occidental.)

The U'wa threatened to commit mass suicide in 1997 when their ancestral lands were first targeted for oil exploration. Since then, they have fought an extraordinary battle to defend what is theirs, and to preserve it for future generations instead of sacrificing it for short-term profit. Their courage and their desire to live in a state of ecological balance with the earth has garnered them widespread worldwide support. Indeed, there is a strong fear within the oil industry that this situation has all the makings of a PR disaster on the scale of the Brent Spar or the Exxon Valdez. Now 5,000 U'wa lives hang in the balance.

Towards the end of 1999, the U'wa re-occupied one of the drill sites on their land, and held it until a government military force kicked them off last week with customary brutality. Last week U'wa representative Roberto Perez said this: "...we ask that our brothers and sisters from other races and cultures unite in the struggle that we are undertaking...we believe that this struggle has to become a global crusade to defend life."

Mary Bateman of RTS said: "The U'wa are not a threatened tribe to be pitied by the world, they are strong and in their actions we can see the seeds of a sustainable, socially just future. The machine they are taking on - also known as capitalism - has its heart right here in the Square Mile. That's why it was targeted on June 18th 1999, and that's why it will be targeted on February 3rd. Fidelity Investments' advertising offers an illusion of security and comfort when in reality its products can be directly linked to environmental destruction and appalling abuses of human rights."

U'wa info: www.amazonwatch.com and www.ran.org
In Colombia: 00 571 2812071 / 00 571 3376950
Info in London on the day: 0171 281 4621 / mobile: 0467 304155

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Updated 05 Feb 2000