In 2015, ConocoPhillips and CNE Oil & Gas (Canacol Energy) obtained contracts for the exploration and production of unconventional fossil fuels (fracking) in the municipality of San Martín, César, Colombia.
Local organizations in San Martín, led by the Corporation in Defense of Water, Territory and Ecosystems (CORDATEC), have been resisting this project, and have faced intense state repression.
Since 2017 CORDATEC and the Popular Consultation Committee of San Martín have been driving the process of convening a popular consultation against fracking and mining in the municipality. It would be the first consultation on banning fracking in the country.
Popular consultations are a legal mechanism that allow local municipalities to prohibit mining or oil and gas exploration and exploitation in their territories. So far 9 municipalities across Colombia have banned mining in their communities by popular vote, and 54 more are in planning stages. Popular consultations are in danger in Colombia.
On April 12, the Constitutional Court of Colombia held a public audience to revise the legality of the consultations. The legal process could result in a modification of Sentence T-445, which gives the consultations legal standing. Colombian and international organizations are asking the Court to respect the right of Colombians to decide if they want mining and fossil fuel exploitation in their territories or not.