Approximately 1,200 indigenous families on Tuesday blocked the border between Colombia and Venezuela to protest against the Colombian government’s ban on importing diesel into the country.
The indigenous started the blockade on Monday and will today continue to prevent the passing of traffic through the site known as Paraguachon, in the northern department of La Guajira.
The indigenous are protesting the decision taken 15 days ago by Colombia’s Ministry of Mining and Energy that the fuel they used to supply to 140 petrol stations in La Guajira doesn’t meet with the necessary standards of non contaminating material.
“The governments of Colombia and Venezuela have had an agreement since 2005 that the Ayatawacoop cooperative was authorized to market this fuel and to fight smuggling, and now they have decided to ignore these agreements and these rights and that is what we are reclaiming,” said Efe Rosario Enrique, president of the Ayatawacoop cooperative which has united indigenous action.
According to the president of the cooperative, the indigenous blockade could be extended to other sites along the border, including Cucuta, the capital of the Norte de Santander department.
The Colombian government’s reasoning is that the fuel contains a higher sulphur level than is permitted (50 parts per million) for commercial and transport use.
Approximately 4,000 people travel across the road daily, mostly for commercial purposes. Rosario declared that on Tuesday, “nobody and nothing is going to pass through this way.”