Alleged BP 'fixer' in Colombia named

John Palmer In Brussels

The Guardian, 25th October '96

BRITISH Petroleum's alleged "inside man" within the Colombian government was named in he European Parliament yesterday. Ramon Marino was said by Richard Howitt, Labour MEP for Essex South, to be one of a number of former and current BP employees inside the administration 'to smooth the agreement environmental permits".

Mr Howitt's claim formed ?art of a string of allegations, all of which are denied by BP. He told the parliament that BP was romp]Licit in human-rights abuses and environmental damage in Colombia. MEPs responded to Mr Howitt's c]Laims by calling for the Colombian government to pub]Lish the human rights commission report upon which some of his allegations are based. But Anne McIntosh, Tory MEP for Essex North and Suffolk South, accused Mr Howitt of waging a campaign against one of Britain's largest employers and making "completely inaccurate allegations."

The report BP says consists of unchecked answers to loaded questions accuses the company of passing video footage of people protesting against oil pollution in the Casanare region to the Colombian army. It alleges that a number of the protesters were then murdered or "disappeared" and gives details of seven such murders.

Mr Howitt told MEPs: "I believe environmental damage is being inflicted on the people of Casanare as seriously as the evidence exposed in this Iguana of Shells action against the Ogoni people in Nigeria. "Local people told me of fish floating dead in polluted rivers and ]Livestock blinded from grazing on poisoned fields. BP's own officials admit weekly oil spills, illegal sites, water contamination, chemical overflows and the invasion of protected forests."

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