A police officer and a civilian were reportedly killed and 79 officers and nine oilfield workers were taken hostage on Thursday in Colombia's Caqueta province. This occurred during violent protests against the Emerald Energy oil company.
The conflict flared in the San Vicente del Caguan municipality, where rural and Indigenous community members blocked access to an oil field and protested to demand Emerald Energy help repair roads in the area.
These protests and recent violence are indicative of a larger crisis unfolding in Colombia. President Petro's hard stance against oil companies has emboldened local communities to take justice into their own hands and force companies to follow through with their social commitments through threats and violence.
The Colombian government is doing everything in its power to de-escalate the violence and ensure the safe return of the protestors. Oil is an important yet declining export, and there must be better support for the industry in general — this means not brutalizing and intimidating workers. These protests have already cost two men their lives, and the resulting property damage will likely cost many people their jobs. Enough is enough.