Colombian natives celebrate OXY retreat

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Excerpts from a statement to the international public on the withdrawal of Occidental Petroleum from U'wa sacred territory Kera Chikara issued by the Traditional Authorities of the U'wa Association at Cubar? - Boyac?, Colombia, on May 7:

The millennial and historic U'wa Indigenous People of Colombia, situated in the departments of Casanare, Arauca, Boyac?, Santander and Norte de Santander, through this statement would like to express thanks from our hearts for the total and unconditional support that we have received from ? national and international organizations in defense of life, culture and the environment.

We recognize with all our heart and spirit the total and unconditional support that we received in the most difficult moments of this process of defending culture, territory and autonomy. Since 1996, when our brother Terence Freitas arrived in our territory, we were given the spiritual strength and shown the path along which the U'wa Peoples should walk in their fight against the diabolical multinational oil company Occidental of Colombia (OXY) that came and violated our most sacred right: "Violation of the sacred body of our Mother Earth." Their stabbing was felt some feet (12,500) below the earth's surface and she cried. She asked us to defend her and to tell the world what she was feeling. We did that and we will continue to do that. This is only known by the U'wa people and our allies because of our permanent contact with her.

Our cultural principles include the defense of the right to a dignified life, respect for mother earth and the environment, essential and sacred elements that we should leave as an inheritance to our children, grandchildren and their descendents. We want to thank all for their moral, spiritual, human and economic support, particularly our friends near to our lands such as the social sectors of the department of Arauca who once again felt state violence. However, convinced of our just and noble cause, they accompanied us at all times day after day, night after night. They were always by our side sharing difficult moments, seeing and feeling the contempt of the company and those enemies of life and the environment who attacked not only the life of Terence, Ingrid and Lahe'ena'e, but also the source of life, "Mother Earth."

Today we invite all of our brother and sister children of the earth to tell the world that Mother Earth is alive, that the U'wa are alive, that the coming together of many voices, hands, cries, writings, meditation, feet, thoughts, etc., make people free from aggressors and destroyers.

We want to remind our friends and brothers and sisters around the world that our fight continues, that the government should return lands that they took through violence, cancel all oil, mining, and environmental projects, immediately hand over the sum of 18,000,000,000 Colombian pesos, the cost of land titling for the United U'wa Reserve, and compensate us for the death of our children and leaders, compensate the families of the three supporters of indigenous rights who gave their lives to defend our legitimate rights, and the social sectors for their human, moral and economic losses. The U'wa will show the government that we are dignified and fair, that we are not asking for anything that isn't ours, that mother earth and her children are sacred.

We all belong to the divine creation SIRA and as such we deserve respect. Mother Earth, despite being violated, silently continues feeding us, sustaining us. She doesn't feel envy. She talks but very few listen to her voice. She insists through cries but everything continues the same. This worries us, but we the U'wa and friends of the U'wa of Colombia and the world will continue to defend her with our voice, our sacred fasts, our songs, our faith.

The money king is only an illusion. Capitalism is blind and barbaric. It buys consciences, governments, peoples, and nations. It poisons the water and the air. It destroys everything. And to the U'wa, it says that we are crazy, but we want to continue being crazy if it means we can continue to exist on our dear mother earth.

The government should recognize that we are people who are part of that word "State." It should respect our forms of life, our thinking, our laws of origin and our elders. It should respect universal human rights and international treaties because we are people ? we too feel.

Brothers and sisters of the world, the U'wa will continue defending Mother Earth. We invite you to continue accompanying us. Thank you for believing in us.