We should say that two U’wa leaders were scheduled to be here in LA for the demonstration, but at the last moment they were denied entry visas to the United States.
The history of the Gore family and Occidental Petroleum have been intertwined for generations. Al Gore Sr. was such a loyal political ally that Occidental’s founder and longtime CEO, Armand Hammer, liked to say that he had Gore “in my back pocket.” When Gore Sr. left the Senate in 1970, Hammer gave him a half a million dollar a year job at an Occidental subsidiary and a seat on the company’s board of directors. Money from Occidental and its subsidiaries formed the basis of the Gore family fortune.
But it is not only the land of Indigenous Colombians that Occidental is drilling against the wishes of the residents and indigenous inhabitants. In late 1997, Al Gore supported the federal government’s three and a half billion dollar sale of the Elk Hills oil field in Bakersfield, California, to Occidental Petroleum. This was the largest privatization of federal property in US history. Occidental’s plans to drill for oil in Elk Hills will disturb traditional burial sites for the Yokuts indigenous peoples of southern California. At stake are at least 100 ancient sites in the Buena Vista Lake region where Yokuts peoples once lived.
- Dee Dominguez, tribal chairwoman of the Kitanemuk/Tejon Indian tribe whose ancestral lands are in the Elk Hills at the eastern end of the southern San Joaquin valley.
- Julie Freitas, mother of Terence Freitas, activist who was killed by guerillas in March 1999.
- Jennifer Freitas, sister of Terence Freitas, activist who was killed by guerillas in March 1999.
- Danny Kennedy, Director of Project Underground