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U'wa Leaders Speak Out

Thursday, October 13, 2005
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Event Type:
Ana Maria Murillo
Location Details:
522 Valencia (at 16th St., 3rd floor)

Dear friends and relatives,

We are honored to invite you to a series of events with U'wa leaders from
Colombia: BERITO COBARIA the president of the U'wa Indigenous community
and DARIS CRISTANCHO, a powerful U'wa woman leader. Come hear firsthand
accounts of the Uwa Indigenous community's peaceful strategy to defend
their lives and culture that include prioritizing the leadership
development of women and youth, legal action and grassroots organizing.

Thurs. October 13, 2005
7pm: Event at the Center for Political Education
522 Valencia (at 16th street, 3rd floor), San Francisco

Co-sponsored by: Amazon Watch, Casa Cultural Colombiana, Fellowship of
Reconciliation Task Force on Latin America and the Caribbean, Global
Exchange, & Rainforest Action Network and others.

12-1pm: Brownbag Lunch Presentation at Presidio
Thoreau Center Bldg 1014, Tides Ctr Pacific Room,
For directions-

After their visit here, they will be traveling to DC and Chicago to meet
with US Policy-makers, and participate in internacional strategy meetings
and conferences (see full schedule at end of this email). Hope to see you
on October 13th!

Ana Maria Murillo
Executive Director
U'wa Defense Project
Presidio POB 29457 San Francisco, CA 94129
Office 415 561 4518 Fax 415 561 4521 Cel 415 640 0203
Providing legal, community development, research & advocacy support to the
Indigenous U'wa people in Colombia as they work to defend their life, land
& cultural autonomy. * Your tax deductible donations to the U'wa Defense
Project may be sent to the address above.

The U'wa are an Indigenous community of 5,000 who live in the cloudforest
of northeastern Colombia near Venezuela. Despite the brutality of
centuries of colonization imposed upon the 84 tribes in Colombia, the U'wa
people are among the most traditional communities and take very seriously
their historical responsibility to protect these resources and to maintain
the balance of the earth. Unfortunately, in a global context where
petroleum is valued more than people and the environment, the U'wa
communities and their ancestral lands are under attack. Since 1992, the
U'wa have led a multi-faceted campaign to defend their land and culture
from the violence that always accompanies oil extraction in Colombia. The
strength of U'wa organizing in the face of oil greed is challenged even
further by a civil conflict supported with US funds, weapons and training.

Issues to be Addressed:
* Indigenous and human rights
* Women's leadership within the Indigenous movement
* Environmental issues
* Impacts of US military aid in Colombia
* U'wa culture and spirituality
* Militarization, war and petroleum mining
* Impact of the Colombian civil-war on traditional Indigenous
communities and specifically women and children

Contact U'wa Defense Project:
Ana Maria Murillo, Executive Director
Office 415 561 4518
To see updated tour schedule, visit:


Daris Cristancho is one of the few women leaders to serve on the
community's tribal council and the first U'wa woman to ever come to the
United States, through UDP's Indigenous Woman's Speaking Tour in May of
last year. She is a powerful speaker who bears witness not only to the
brutality of petroleum extraction and its consequences, but to Colombia's
40 year civil war and the beauty of the political resistance of her U'wa
people. Cristancho's community organizing skills were poignantly
represented when she led a 6-month peaceful roadblock in response to a
violent eviction of U'wa families carried out by the Colombian army, which
was favoring the attempts of US-based Occidental Petroleum (Oxy) to begin
drilling on U'wa ancestral land. She speaks first-hand on how the U'wa
struggles are grounded in the spiritual strength which comes from their
land, Kajka Ika, the heart of the world. Grounded in the heritage of a
long line of medicine women, Cristancho speaks about the interrelations
between putting her life on the line for her community and her daily
struggles and joys of being a woman, a grassroots leader and a mother of

Berito Cobaría (aka Roberto Kubaru'wa) is the president and legal
representative of the U'wa community, and has traveled numerous times to
the US and Europe gaining support for the U'wa struggle aginst the deadly
affects of Petroleum extraction. Cobaría is a very tradional Uwa leader
and was designated as a spokesperson by the U'wa in their international
campaign against proposed drilling in the U'wa homeland, first by Oxy and
now by the Colombian company Ecopetrol. During his two terms as president
of the U'wa tribal council, Cobaría has garnered the support of
environmental and human rights groups and in 1995 successfully appealed to
the Colombian courts to change the decision allowing Oxy to explore for
oil. In 1998, Cobaría was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental
Prize in recognition of his tireless work on behalf of his community
despite numerous threats to his life.

The U'wa Defense Project (UDP) is a San Francisco, Presidio-based
organization that has worked with the U'wa Indigenous people in Colombia
since 1997. UDP was founded by Terrence Freitas, who was kidnapped and
assassinated by the FARC guerrilla group in Colombia in 1999, along with
colleagues Ingrid Washinawatok, and Lahe'ena'e Gay. We all still feel the
loss of these amazing individuals. Despite the intensity of the work, we
celebrate the beauty of the U'wa struggle and strength of the U'wa people.
Today, it is UDP's mission to provide legal, community development,
advocacy, and research support to the Indigenous U'wa people as they work
to defend their life, land and cultural autonomy. In the face of multiple
challenges that include increasing militarization, violence and oil
drilling, UDP supports the U'wa politically and economically in their
community capacity building strategy that includes (1) prioritizing
international alliance building, (2) building women's leadership, (3)
pursuing legal action, and (4) investing in youth leadership and

Speaking Tour Schedule
October 10-16: San Francisco
October 17-19: Washington DC, NYC
October 20-25: Chicago
To see updated event schedule, visit Amazon Watch's website:

Speaking Tour Highlights:
o Co-sponsoring "Partnering for Peace: Colombian & North American
Communities in Solidarity", an international conference on Colombia in
Chicago. (
o Participating in a Congressional Briefing on Capitol Hill to educate
congressional representatives on the human impacts of US military aid in
Colombia with USOC
o Strategy meetings with NGOs and oil experts, public education
events, and meetings with donors and funders

U'wa Defense Project presents:
U'wa Grassroots Leaders Speaking Tour
Indigenous Resistance to Petroleum and Militarization in Colombia
with Daris Cristancho and Berito Cobaria ~ October 10-25, 2005

Event Schedule
Last updated 9/21/2005 2:39 PM

Wednesday October 11, SF
7pm fundraising House party, SF
Contact UDP for more info (

Thursday October 13, SF
12-1 Brownbag Lunchtime Presentation: Presidio. Thoreau Center, Tides
Center's Pacific Room
7-9pm Community Event at Center for Political Education, 522 Valencia (at
16th street, 3rd floor)

Saturday October 15, SF or Sunday October 16
12-1:30 Informal fundraising lunch at Bioneers, Marin
Exact day, time and meeting place TBA
Contact UDP for more info (

Tuesday October 18, DC
Congressional briefing on Capitol Hill
Or Strategy session w US NGOs

Wednesday October 19, DC
Congressional briefing on Capitol Hill
Or Strategy session w US NGOs
6:30pm Public Education Community Event at local church with Berito, Daris
y Zulia Mena (contact Cristina Espinel at

Friday October 21 to Sun, October 23, Chicago
Conference: "Partnering for Peace: Colombian and US Communities in

Monday October 24, Chicago
Possible event at Northwestern University

To contact U'wa Defense Project:
Ana Maria Murillo, Executive Director
Presidio POB 29457, SF CA 94112-0457
Office 415 561 4518 Fax 415 561 4521

* Your tax deductible donations to the U'wa Defense Project may be sent to
the address above.

U'wa community's website:

To see updated Speaking Tour event schedule, visit:
Added to the calendar on Sun, Oct 9, 2005 10:32PM
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