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Interview with Luz Perly Cordoba

9. December 2005

Leader of Arauca Farmers’ Association and former Colombian political prisoner

How is the general situation of the farmers’ movement in Arauca, which led to the persecution of its leaders, including yourself and other comrades?

Arauca has about 300 thousand inhabitants, 70% of whom live in rural areas. In Arauca, there are great direct interests of the USA and of the Colombian state. We have one of the longest borders with Venezuela, and the USA is obviously interested in using Colombia as a platform for aggression against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and its democratic process. Actually, there are about 300 US soldiers stationed in the department of Arauca who are carrying out counter-insurrection operations. However there are also oil interests involved. Arauca has one of the greatest petrol exploitation centres of Occidental Petroleum Company (USA) and Repsol (Spain). Finally, Arauca is historically outstanding because of its strong peasant resistance, and has one of the most solid and important projects in terms of social and farmers’ organization. Arauca is the only department where the paramilitaries have not been able to enter in order to develop their macabre project of displacement, terror and appropriation of natural resources which exist in the area.

In this context, we underwent a heavy aggression in 2001 at the hands of the armed forces of the state, combined with the paramilitary groups aiming at entering the Arauca region. The 18th Brigade of the army and the 16th Brigade, in coordination with a group of mercenaries and paramilitary killers, entered. In the year 2001 only, they caused 474 deaths in the municipality of Tam�, which is only one of the towns in the department. This was the beginning of one of the heaviest campaigns for the physical extermination of the social organisations in the department. The project was to eliminate the obstacle of Arauca in order to open up a road called the “Route of the Liberators”, a major road supposed to link Caracas, Bogot�, Quito and Lima as part of the famous project for a free market area of the Americas. Arauca is very important since this road must pass through it, as it crosses the eastern plains of Colombia and further towards the frontier with Venezuela where the Columbian-Venezuelan plains are rich in oil, and where an attempt is being made to implement economic macro-projects in the field of agriculture and industry, especially oil palms and industrial yucca.

Read the full interview in Spanish

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