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2003-05-02

Occidental Petroleum Sued for Role in Civilian Massacre in Colombia

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On December 13, 1998, Luis Alberto Galvis lost his mother, sister and cousin in a U.S. air raid in Colombia.

He recently confronted shareholders of a U.S. company that he claims is responsible for the deaths of 19 civilians including seven children.

The lawsuit filed on April 25 by international rights attorneys charges that Occidental Petroleum and its private security contractor, Airscan, participated in the air raid that led to the killing of innocent civilians.

The suit charges that both OXY and Airscan helped conduct the attack, providing key strategic information, as well as ground and air support to the Colombian military in the bombing raid on the town. Airscan’s "Skymaster" plane—which provides aerial surveillance for OXY’S Caño Limon oil pipeline—accompanied the Colombian air force during the bombing, and used its infrared and video equipment to pinpoint targets on the ground. While allegedly targeting suspected rebels, no rebels were in the area.

Occidental has been a chief architect of Plan Colombia and a lobbyist for U.S. military aid to Colombia, currently at $131 million this year. Another $110 million is proposed in 2004 for the protection of OXY’s Caño Limon pipeline. This unprecedented corporate subsidy of $3.58 a barrel is a handsome payoff for OXY’s aggressive lobbying efforts and political contributions.

  • Dan Kovalik, lawyer for the plaintiff in the Occidental case.
  • Luis Mujica, survivor of a 1998 bombing in Colombia. He is suing Occidental for role in bombing

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