Fracking effort closes in on impoverished Colombian communities

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*This article is a collaboration between Semana Sostenible of Colombia and Mongabay Latam. Sofía and Nicole, two young girls from the Colombian village of Terraplén, sing at the top of their lungs: “We are happy! We are happy!” They jump barefoot between their home’s dirt floor and the planks of wood that line their front yard. Their innocent joy contrasts with the sadness of their surroundings. Terraplén does not have potable water service, reliable restrooms, paved roads, sports venues or a medical clinic. In the village, located in the municipality of Puerto Wilches in the department of Santander, all the houses seem to be identical: a zinc roof, wooden walls and a dirt floor. Only the school is different because it was built by the community using brick and cement. “It is a place where children escape reality,” Liliana Palomino, the only teacher in town, said of the school. She said the smiles of her 11 students and the appreciation she receives from the community feel like the best rewards for Palomino. She has been fighting for several months for their school to be legally recognized by local and departmental government agencies, which hasn’t happened yet because it’s in a “red zone” where paramilitary or guerrilla groups operate. At the same time, fracking researchers plan to conduct pilot projects very close to Terraplén. The same is true elsewhere within the municipality of San Martín, already well known for its constant anti-fracking protests. The oil industry has operated in close proximity…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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