LONDON (AP) — In the Putumayo region of the Colombian Amazon, Segundo Meneses’ daily routine has taken him to the Chufiya River, its verdant banks and waters full of catfish and piranhas. One morning, seven years ago, he noticed a dark film that bathed the shore. Where the river turned a bend, it turned black. It was an oil slick that he says sickened his young family and poisoned his cows and pigs.
British law firm Leigh Day is now suing Amerisur, the oil company operating in the area, on behalf of 171 Putumayo farmers, including Meneses. This spill was not the only complication of this particular oil operation. Indigenous people in nearby Siona say they reject oil pumping and will fight it. This area is also awash with coca production, and former rebel groups fight over drug territory, sometimes disrupting the flow of oil. Then there are reports from UN reporters and an interfaith non-profit group that say the oil company, Amerisur Resources PLC, may have worked with rebels to pressure the Sionas and local farmers to that they cease their opposition in order to keep the oil in circulation.