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McCain's Big Oil Ties: Pt 2

Discussion in 'U.S. Politics' started by Octoldit, Oct 14, 2008.

  1. Octoldit

    Octoldit Member

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    By Nikolas Kozloff
    Thu, 28 Aug 2008 10:38:28 -0500


    Charlie Black and Santo Domingo Massacre

    The same year Black took on Occidental, the company was embroiled in controversy when the Colombian Air Force dropped cluster bombs on Santo Domingo, a village near an Occidental pipeline, killing 18 innocent civilians. Human rights groups and Colombian government officials said the bombing was a mistake that occurred because three employees of a Florida-based aerial security company employed by Occidental to monitor guerrilla movements had provided incorrect coordinates to Colombian military pilots.

    The US employees of the security company dropped out of sight and Colombian government efforts to have them handed over for questioning and perhaps trial proved fruitless. Frustrated by the security company’s stonewalling, human rights groups filed suit in California in 2003 and 2004 against Occidental. Occidental still denies any responsibility for the bombing of Santo Domingo, and has claimed that it “has not and does not provide lethal aid to Colombia’s armed forces.”

    Such affairs were apparently of little concern to Black, who lobbied Congress, the State Department, and the White House on Occidental’s behalf regarding “general energy issues” and “general trade issues” involving Colombia. McCain’s PR man also fought to win foreign assistance to Colombia and to block an economic embargo against the South American country.

    Occidental and the U’wa

    The Santo Domingo massacre was certainly a black mark on Occidental’s record. However, there were yet more controversies in store for the company.

    Under an agreement with the Colombian government, Oxy acquired the right to explore for oil in the country’s northeast. Unfortunately, in granting Oxy its exploration permit, the government ignored a constitutional requirement that native peoples within the area be consulted first. Oxy quickly became embroiled in conflict with the indigenous U’wa, whose territory was nestled in the misty forests of northeast Colombia near the border with Venezuela.

    As company geologists and engineers moved in to build roads through the indigenous reservation, so too did the Colombian army, which installed two military bases in the vicinity. It wasn’t long before the military began to harass local residents.

    Known as a proud, strongly rooted people, the U’wa repeatedly denounced Occidental’s oil operation. The U’wa argued that oil exploration would threaten their people, damage the land, fill their territory with alien workers and destroy the world they knew. At one point the approximately 5,000 U’wa even threatened to commit collective suicide by leaping from a cliff unless the oil company stopped operations on their territory.

    Tensions were ratcheted up when, in February 2000, Oxy began construction on its Gibraltar 1 drill site. Some 2,700 U’wa Indians, local farmers, students, and union members immediately attempted to stop Oxy’s construction. When indigenous peoples sought to prevent trucks from reaching the construction site, riot police used tear gas to break up a road blockade. Three U’wa children were drowned in a fast-flowing river as the U’wa fled the attack.

    Two months later, when Oxy began to move heavy equipment and materials into the area, the U’wa again blocked local roads. While the protesters permitted other traffic to pass, they laid their bodies in front of Occidental trucks. In June, the government sent in riot police and soldiers; 28 demonstrators were subsequently injured and 33 arrested. Believing that the area might contain up to 1.5 billion barrels of oil, Occidental shortly thereafter began test drilling on U’wa ancestral lands.

    Promoting Oil Development through Militarization

    Even as tensions escalated within the U’wa reserve, McCain adviser Black was unperturbed. According to Atossa Soltani, executive director of Amazon Watch, a human rights group that works on behalf of Colombian indigenous groups opposed to oil drilling, Black was “very active” while Congress was debating a $1.3 billion military assistance package to Colombia that became law in 2000. “We’d be making the rounds in Congress,” Soltani said, “and Oxy would be there making the rounds, too.”

    Why would Black also be so interested in trying to secure military funding for Colombia? As Oxy’s oil operations expanded, acquiring military support proved increasingly vital for the company. Oxy was part owner of the Caño Limón-Coveñas oil pipeline. The Caño Limón pipeline leads from Arauca to the Caribbean coast and crosses through the U’wa’ traditional lands. Not surprisingly, Oxy’s activities quickly attracted the attention of left-wing guerrillas who repeatedly blew up the pipeline. The attacks caused more than $500 million in losses to the company between December 1999 and December 2000.

    The U’wa had long feared that oil exploration would bring bloodshed and conflict within their ancestral lands.

    And as it turned out, the Indians were right.

    Soon enough, Colombia’s wider civil conflict began to spill over into U’wa traditional territory. In March 1999, three U’wa supporters from the United States—Terence Freitas, Ingrid Washinawotok, and Laheehae Gay—were kidnapped and killed by FARC guerrillas in the department of Arauca.

    While it’s unclear whether Oxy had any direct involvement in the killings, the company is known to have had links to the guerrillas. In testimony given before a Congressional subcommittee, Lawrence Meriage, Oxy’s vice president for communication and public affairs, acknowledged that Occidental personnel regularly paid off guerrillas in exchange for being left alone.

    Meriage also claimed during the hearing that one benefit of Occidental operations in the U’wa region had been the increased presence of government troops. Indeed, Oxy paid a fee to the Colombian government on every barrel of oil produced. Meriage said that Occidental supported increased US military assistance to Colombia, and even urged the United States to expand its military operations in Colombia

    In an effort to expand military funding to Colombia, the company spent nearly $4 million lobbying Congress in Washington. The investment paid off when the US government agreed to provide military aid, equipment and training to the 18th Brigade in Arauca, a unit which had been involved in grave human rights violations including attacks against trade unions and other members of civil society.

    In May 2002, following a massive outcry by environmental groups, Oxy finally announced that it would return its controversial oil block to the Colombian government. Nevertheless, the company continued to operate in Colombia. Currently, the oil firm occupies the Caño-Limón oil field located in the Llanos Basin in the northeastern part of the country. The company also holds a 35 percent interest in the Caricare field and has signed a production agreement with Ecopetrol to operate the La Cira-Infantas field in central Colombia.

    Although Oxy’s Caño-Limón field has yielded hundreds of million dollars annually in profits, the pipeline has been an ongoing target for guerrilla forces. In 2007, Occidental again found itself in the midst of a human-rights mess. This time, the company was accused in congressional testimony of being “complicit“—with several other major corporations—in the murder of three labor leaders.

    Hopelessly Compromised on Colombia

    Despite these ominous developments, Black continued his lobbying efforts over at BKSH. Over the long haul the PR man’s loyalty to Occidental proved enormously lucrative, with Black netting $1.6 million in fees for BKSH from 2001 to 2007. Occidental was surely pleased with Black’s work: in 2003, Congress approved a special appropriation of nearly $100 million for the protection of oil pipelines in Colombia.

    McCain’s aides have repeatedly argued that the senator’s presidential campaign does not have direct connections to companies represented by such advisers as Black. The Arizona senator’s handlers assert that McCain should not be held accountable for any company misdeeds nor should the public presume that McCain is unduly influenced by corporate interests.

    Granted, McCain may claim that there is a degree of separation between Charlie Black and himself. There are several problems with this argument however.

    To begin with McCain appointed Black to his position, which speaks volumes about McCain’s political priorities. In the second place, the Senator has a personal connection to Oxy through Ray Irani, Occidental’s chief executive. In 2008, Irani doled out $2,800 to McCain’s presidential campaign and a full $25,000 to the Republican National Committee. Irani could easily afford the donation: in 2007 he was the tenth highest paid CEO in the United States, raking in a whopping $34.2 million from Occidental.

    Throughout his political career, McCain has protected Big Oil on Capitol Hill. The Arizona Senator has eagerly accepted Chevron and Occidental money to ensure his own success. The oil lobby, which is surely hoping for a McCain win come November, can count on its man to ensure a healthy “investment climate” in Iraq and Colombia. If anyone happens to interfere with petroleum investment, warrior President McCain can be relied upon to back up US oil operations with the full might and resources of the US military.
     
  2. GenSeneca

    GenSeneca Well-Known Member

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    Continued:

    "According to Progressive Media USA.." - Socialist Slander Mill

    Octoldit, do you have the balls to engage in conversation, or are you just here to copy and paste this Socialist filth?

    So... Octoldit, you don't use ANY oil at all right? I hope you would have the courage of your convictions and live without using any oil or oil based products. Of course, given the amount of oil needed to make your computer and its components, you are more part of the problem than you are the solution.

    What can replace oil for all the things we use it for Octoldit? Can you answer that question? Don't be scared to admit that nothing can replace oil and we need it to survive....
     
  3. Andy

    Andy Well-Known Member

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    He also conviently ignores Oxy's ties to Al Gore, and the Gore clan that has had millions invest in Oxy Petrol for years. Al Gore personally over saw the sale of federal lands to Oxy for the purpose of drilling for oil. A deal which made Al Gore's personal stock in the company worth thousands more.

    But then... make massive profits off of back room deals for the sale of supposed 'global warming' causing oil is ok.... when it's a democrat.
     
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