Between the 11th and the 16th of July, a delegation of 17 canadian civil society and parliament representatives carried out a mission of observation in Colombia, to evaluate the consequences of the intense oil production activities of the canadian registered Pacific Rubiales Energy(PRE) in Puerto Gaitan, in the province of Meta. The delegation attended the Public Hearing held in Puerto Gaitan July 13th and 14th. In this Public event, several witness gave testimonies among which was Mr. Héctor Sánchez, a community leader and member of the Unión Sindical Obrera (USO) in this region.
On July 16th, 2013, at 7:00pm, Mr. Héctor Sánchez, his spouse and their child Juan David, who is 3 years old, received a death threat by means of a message that was left in their dining room. The document is made up of cut-out letters from newspaper articles and contains the following message:
‘‘Rest in peace, Juan David and Costeña. We see every step you make with your family. It’s good that you look for help, but it won’t be useful at all. We also know that you're going to work. Don’t ask for a stupid death, the same for your wife and child. Sincere condolences for the loss of your wife and your child. Don’t leave them behind as orphans and a widow and don’t become a widower yourself.’’
Mr. HÉCTOR SÁNCHEZ is a community leader and member of the Unión Sindical Obrera (USO). He is from El Porvenir county in Puerto Gaitán (Meta department), where the oil fields of the multinational Pacific Rubiales Energy are located. As a result of his leadership and community work, Mr. Héctor Sánchez has received several threats. Mr. Sánchez organized and convened community meetings, held between June 21 nd , 2013, where the USO and other organizations invited local residents to the 'Popular Tribunal on Extractive Policies in Colombia'. This event was organized so that various social, student, peasant, union, indigenous, environmental and women organizations could denounce the consequences of oil development in the region and formulate proposals to attain more dignified living conditions.
On Monday, June 24 2013, around 6:40a.m., in the county of El Porvenir, jurisdiction of the municipality of Puerto Gaitán, Mr. Héctor Sánchez’s spouse found an envelope with a cross made with shiny silver paper in the entrance of the family's house. It was glued with black tape, with the words 'Death to USO’s informers' written on the top part.
The 'Popular Tribunal on Extractive Policies in Colombia' was held on July 13th and 14 th 2013. Organizers notified authorities, such as the Colombian Ministry of Interior, the Human Rights Ombudsman, and the Vice-President of the Republic, about the event. Mr. Héctor Sánchez took part in this event as a witness, discussing the criminalization of protest against oil companies in the region. We thus believe that the recent threats to his life, and to the lives of his family, are a form of direct retaliation for his participation in the event.