Colombia: indigenous march arrives in Bogotá

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

Despite an intense rain, some 12,000 indigenous marchers from southern Cauca department arrived in the Colombian capital of Bogotá Nov. 21, and established an encampment in the central Plaza de Bolívar. Leaders declared that they would not return to their lands until they were heard by the government. On Nov. 24, the marchers started to return, after the government agreed to establish a commission for what Luis Evelis Andrade, leader of the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), called “a dialogue table” with the government to arrive at accords to improve the life conditions of the indigenous.” A core of indigenous leaders is to stay in Bogotá for talks on land reform, rural development, and the pending free trade agreement with the US. (El Pais, Cali, Nov. 24; Colprensa, Nov. 22)

At the massive Nov. 21 rally in support of the indigenous marchers, a public pact was announced between the leadership of the Central Workers Union (CUT) and the indigenous movement to work in coalition to confront the government of President Alvaro Uribe. CUT president Tarsicio Mora Godoy told indigenous leaders: “The CUT will march together with you so that all the violent actions against the civilian population cease, and so that the state guarantees the respect for the human rights of the people and that impunity is broken… We cannot continue fighting our struggles alone.”

http://ww4report.com/node/6382

Colombia: Reasons to continue the Popular Minga

Colombia: Reasons to continue the Popular Minga

November 4, 2008

Following Sunday’s unprecedented popular encounter between Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and more than three thousand People, it was decided that, after three weeks of protests, the Indigenous and Popular Minga (Mobilization) will continue.

Here is a communique by the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca (ACIN) explaining the reasons behind this decision.

For more updates on the Minga, visit mamaradio.blogspot.com

Reasons to continue the Popular Minga against the Free Trade Agreement and against the So-called “embejucados”

On Sunday, one of the most insulting aspects of the so-called public encounter between the Government and the Popular Minga in La Maria, Piendamó, Cauca was the condescending attitude the government showed towards its counterparts, the indigenous interlocutors. This attitude was evident in every issue that was discussed in the debate. The President repeatedly asked his ministers to read aloud parts of the laws and of the free trade agreements that are in question. In essence, he was calling us ignorant, ‘you don’t even read what is contained therein.’ ‘Pay attention, you insipient and inferior beings, so that you understand.’

Continue reading

National Chief Condemns Violence Against Indigenous Protestors in Colombia

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

National Chief Condemns Violence Against Indigenous Protestors in Colombia

Hello folks,

This is an important political message from a leader of the Canadian first nations, showing support for the indigenous protesters in Colombia. While he calls on “all parties to end the violence,” he also rightfully asks that the eyes of the world must remain fixed on Colombia to make sure there is a negotiated settlement of the armed conflict, which has detrimentally impacted indigenous communities and their generations-long struggle for autonomy and defense of their life plans. One would hope that others would take note, especially in the north, where there has been a virtual blackout on the popular minga that has been unfolding now for over two weeks.


National Chief Condemns Violence Against Indigenous Protestors in Colombia

    OTTAWA, Oct. 27 /CNW Telbec/ - In southwest Colombia, protests over the
government of Colombia's economic policies have erupted into violence as riot
police clash with Indian protestors. The protests which began on October 21
have left many injured and unconfirmed reports indicate at least 3 Indian
protestors are dead. The protestors blockaded the Pan-American highway and
possess mostly rudimentary means of defending themselves against encroaching
police. Indigenous peoples in Colombia are expressing fear of a pending
escalation in this conflict.

  AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine expressed his concern for the Indigenous
peoples of Colombia and urged the Colombian government to negotiate a peaceful
settlement with the protestors. "I am calling on all parties to end the
violence and seek respectful dialogue to address their differences. I also
call on Canadians concerned about human rights and the rights of Indigenous
peoples to ensure that the eyes of the world remain fixed on events in
Colombia to ensure peaceful and immediate resolution to the armed conflict,"
he said.

  "The Indian population in Colombia is among the poorest in Colombia, a
reality faced by First Nations in Canada as well," added National Chief
Fontaine. Noting that economic polices, including government plans for a
free-trade deal with the U.S., have prompted increasing dissent from
Indigenous peoples in Colombia, National Chief Fontaine said, "Conditions of
extreme poverty and the exclusion which are common to Indigenous peoples in
Canada as they are in other parts of the world, are not conducive to peaceful
diplomatic relations in the 21st century. Both domestic and international
decision-making and planning on the economy should include Indigenous peoples.
This is the key to alleviating rampant poverty among Indigenous peoples and
fostering relationships based on meaningful consultation, inclusion and
ultimately, achieving reconciliation".

  "I would also note that this is an example of the importance of
international instruments like the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples,  which Canada has refused to endorse and implement", said
National Chief Fontaine. "Indigenous rights continue to be suppressed around
the world. The UN Declaration contains the highest human rights standards and
best practices and Canada should support and implement this important human
rights instrument," concluded the National Chief. Regional Chief Wilton
Littlechild, former member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and
who was a key participant in drafting processes of the UN Declaration
discussed the alarming violence in Colombia with Navanethem Pillay, the UN
High Commissioner of Human Rights l    last week in New York City.

  The Assembly of First Nations is the national political organization
representing First Nations people in Canada.

For further information: Joan McEwen, AFN Communications Director, (613)
241-6789 ext. 242, cell (613) 324-3329, jmcewen@afn.ca; Gina Cosentino,
Government Relations and International Affairs Senior Advisor, National
Chief's Office, AFN, (613) 241-6789 ext. 356, gcosentino@afn.ca

 http://mamaradio.blogspot.com/2008/10/natio In southwest Colombia,
 protests over thegovernment of Colombia's economic policies have erupted into violence as 
riotpolice clash with Indian protestors. The protests which began on October 21have left many injured and unconfirmed reports indicate at least 3 Indianprotestors are dead. The protestors blockaded the Pan-American highway andpossess mostly rudimentary means of defending themselves against encroachingpolice. Indigenous peoples in Colombia are expressing fear of a pendingescalation in this conflict.AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine expressed his concern for the Indigenouspeoples of Colombia and urged the Colombian government to negotiate a peacefulsettlement with the protestors. "I am calling on all parties to end theviolence and seek respectful dialogue to address their differences. I alsocall on Canadians concerned about human rights and the rights of Indigenouspeoples to ensure that the eyes of the world remain fixed on events inColombia to ensure peaceful and immediate resolution to the armed conflict,"he said."The Indian population in Colombia is among the poorest in Colombia, areality faced by First Nations in Canada as well," added National ChiefFontaine. Noting that economic polices, including government plans for afree-trade deal with the U.S., have prompted increasing dissent fromIndigenous peoples in Colombia, National Chief Fontaine said, "Conditions ofextreme poverty and the exclusion which are common to Indigenous peoples inCanada as they are in other parts of the world, are not conducive to peacefuldiplomatic relations in the 21st century. Both domestic and internationaldecision-making and planning on the economy should include Indigenous peoples.This is the key to alleviating rampant poverty among Indigenous peoples andfostering relationships
 based on meaningful consultation, inclusion andultimately, achieving reconciliation".nal-chief-condemns-violence.html

For the Transformation of Colombia

The Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca (ACIN) have issued an important message surrounding the purpose of the National Indigenous and Popular mobilization in Colombia, or “Minga.” It is not simply to advance matters concerning indigenous people, but to “convene the transformation of Colombia.”

The message comes a couple days after the indigenous movement, which is being led by more than 12,000 indigenous people and activists, dismantled the pan American highway blockade, and held a set of failed negotiations with Colombia’s government.

Since protests began last week, more than 60 people have been injured and at least two have been killed.

The movement will now march from La Maria, Cauca, where the national protest has been most concentrated, to Colombia’s third largest city, Cali.

An international campaign will also be pursued, “so that people understand the dimension of our problems.”

An Historic Day for Indigenous Peoples

By the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca

“We don´t have a Government” was the conclusion reached by Feliciano Valencia, a native Nasa leader from CRIC during his speech at the press conference at La María Piendamó. In a deep, firm and measured tone, his words were heard in profound silence by an audience of about 5000 indigenous people and some representatives of the Colombian media.

Feliciano began the initial part of his speech by making a number of very strong points which began with “It is not true that….”. Indigenous peoples are not terrorists, the mobilization (Minga) is not controlled or run in coordination with FARC, land is not the main nor the only issue, indigenous peoples have not negotiated, nor reached an agreement with the Colombian Government, contrary to what was falsely stated by the Ministers of Justice and the Interior, Agriculture and Social Welfare, Indigenous peoples did not attack the Colombian armed forces and were instead mercilessly and brutally attacked with live ammunition which have left 132 wounded, one dead and one dying, the Government has not fulfilled its obligations with indigenous peoples and has made no effort to keep its promises.

Feliciano then proceeded to describe the Government´s and media behaviour towards the mobilization.

“We invited the President to a dialogue and he responded with a military assault.” Feliciano described the mediatic manipulations, the lies fabricated by the commander of the Police, President Uribe, the head of the Secret Service and several Ministers.

Beyond recent events, Mr. Valencia explained how indigenous peoples are being exterminated not only through a permanent dirty war, military offensives and crossfire, but also through policies of extermination, exploitation and exclusion that have become systematic under the current administration in order to deliver the country´s wealth to transnational corporate interests. This account lead to the indictment: “We don´t have a Government in Colombia”.

Consequently, the Minga convenes the primary constituent assembly. The people of Colombia. All Colombians. Not to follow an indigenous agenda but to weave a collective agenda, a new country from our collective demands and pain.

Feliciano proceeded to outline the five point agenda:
1. No to the economic model and the FTA´s with the US, Canada and Europe;

2. A removal of the legislation that empoverishes peoples, destroys and denies rights and freedoms, delivers the wealth of the country to corporate interests and has not gone through consultation with those affected;

3. No more war and terror as the main Government policy.

4. Respect and application of international and national agreements and establishment of the conditions that will allow the people to construct a new, possible and necessary country.

5. A proposal not for indigenous peoples, but from them, to construct jointly a new society.

The authorities announced a march towards the city of Cali, which will leave from La María next Tuesday. Other social movements and organizations have announced that they will join and mobilize and the whole country is invited to mobilize and gather in Cali.

The words have been stated and now the talk will be walked until a new reality gets on the way, from a country with owners and no peoples, to a country of the peoples without owners.

Today, we heard one of the wisest and clearest statements in recent Colombian history. From being marginalized and defamed as terrorists, from being wounded and murdered like rats, from being lied about and abused, from being excluded, indigenous peoples have stood back and shown their wisdom and dignity taking on their leadership as masters of wisdom for the construction of a new world on this territory of Mother earth now known as Colombia.

The audio recording will be posted on http://www.nasaacin.org . Now, tired, saddenned by the wounded and dead who will lead the march, indigenous peoples are standing strong to convene the transformation of Colombia. A major struggle for which they request the solidarity and support of international observers.

<a href=”http://intercontinentalcry.org/for-the-transformation-of-colombia/”>For the Transformation of Colombia</a>

COLOMBIA: Indigenous People Protest in Face of Threats

COLOMBIA: Indigenous People Protest in Face of Threats

BOGOTA, Oct 15 (IPS) – At the top of the list of demands of some 7,000 people mobilising in the Cauca municipality of Piendamó is the clarification of the deaths of 13 indigenous people killed over the past two weeks in different parts of Colombia.

Thousands of indigenous, black, mestizo (mixed-race) and white representatives of social organisations gathered over the weekend in the southern region of Cauca to participate in the “minga” (a traditional indigenous meeting convened to achieve a collective purpose) on occasion of the Día de la Raza (Day of the Race), which marks the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas.

In a public statement, the protesters denounced Tuesday that the army had injured 23 indigenous people and that three others were missing, as a result of “the repression exercised by the state against our peaceful demonstration.”

They also reported that army helicopters were overflying the indigenous reserve where the gathering is taking place.

Protesters were called to commemorate “516 years of resistance against a regime of terror at the service of multinational capitalist greed.”

Representatives of the union of judicial sector workers, the Asonal Judicial, and sugarcane cutters — both of which have been on strike for more than a month — joined the demonstration on Monday Oct. 13. These two additions are expected to double the current number of protesters, according to estimates by Manuel Rozental, a spokesperson for indigenous groups who spoke to IPS by telephone.

The demonstrators are waiting for Colombia’s right-wing President Álvaro Uribe to respond to a letter they presented on Thursday Oct. 9, in which they demand justice and recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples, which are enshrined in the 1991 constitution.

But Uribe and his staff have so far remained silent. Cauca Governor Guillermo González Mosquera “is talking, at least, but he offers no solutions and assumes no responsibility,” Rozental said.

On Sunday “he warned us that military intelligence reports revealed that indigenous leader Feliciano Valencia could be targeted by the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia),” he added.

But the indigenous movement gives little credence to González Mosquera’s warning, as it is common, in the context of Colombia’s armed conflict, for far-right paramilitary and leftwing guerrilla groups to hurl this kind of accusation at each other.

According to Rozental, “The FARC accuse the black eagles (right-wing paramilitaries), and the black eagles accuse the FARC.” The Colombian army is also present in the area.

Valencia himself told IPS that “in any case, it doesn’t matter who gave the order; the order exists.”

Valencia is a leader of the Cauca indigenous movement who has gained a reputation for fighting the modern-day slavery conditions to which native ethnic groups and afro-Colombians are still subjected by large landowners.

“This activity is different from participating in an armed conflict. We are an indigenous community with our own rules, and we expect armed groups and the State to respect them,” Valencia said.

But the armed groups involved in the decades-old civil war think otherwise. In the last two weeks, they were responsible for the death of 13 people, whose killers have not been identified.

According to representatives of indigenous groups, the latest victim was 39-year-old activist Nicolás Valencia Lemus, who was murdered on Sunday Oct. 12 at 8:30 am. As he made his way to Toribío, in the Cauca region, he was stopped on the road by hooded men who identified themselves as black eagles, forced him to get out of the vehicle in which he was driving with his wife and son, and killed him.

“Regardless of where they come from, the bullets only serve the cause of those who are against the people,” states a press release issued by the indigenous movement.

“As we celebrate the Minga para la Conmoción de los Pueblos (or Minga to Mobilise the People) and commemorate 516 years of resistance and pain, Nicolás’s murder must be clarified. Several armed groups who are looking to benefit from these acts of terror are active around the area where he was gunned down,” the press release adds.

“In the face of death, we will continue to speak out and defend life and dignity…The terror they spread will shame and condemn them. Their lives, guns and words will not be enough to cover up their abominable crimes. Nicolás Valencia Lemus’s death hurts us all and we will fight for justice to be done in his name,” it states.

Twelve other murders, besides Valencia Lemus’s, were committed in different parts of the country, including Nariño in the south, Caldas in the central region, and Antioquia in the northwest.

And it is not just murders: there have also been numerous threats and other attacks. On Monday, demonstrators who were headed for the Piendamó meeting were held up by the army for a few hours, but “they eventually let us through, and here we are,” Ezequiel, another activist, told IPS.

The Minga is also being held simultaneously in other regions, like the northern provinces of La Guajira and Santander, Boyacá and Casanare in the east, and the midwest province of Quindío. But the largest demonstration is taking place in Cauca, Colombia’s most heavily indigenous province, which is culturally close to Nariño and Putumayo.

Demonstrators also expressed their repudiation of the free trade agreement between Colombia and the United States, which is pending congressional approval in the U.S.

The indigenous people are calling for “treaties between peoples, treaties that are for the people and for life, and not treaties between those who are against the people and are killing our Mother Earth with their greed.”

They are also demanding “the repeal of the constitutional reforms and pillaging laws that surrender our wealth to corporate interests, and condemn us to silence, stupidity, forced labour, marginalisation and death.”

The statement mentions a number of regulations promoted by the Uribe administration, including the rural statute, the mining code, water laws and programmes, and the forestry law, which the movements “will continue fighting until they are repealed.”

They are also speaking out against the “terror spread by Plan Colombia (the U.S.-financed anti-drug and counterinsurgency strategy), (Uribe’s) Democratic Security policy, and ‘para-politicians’ (lawmakers linked to the far-right paramilitaries), which are infesting our country and sowing death and forced displacement with the false promise of achieving social recuperation.”

“With this protest — which is not a crime, but rather an obligation seen as a crime by those who fear freedom — we want to tell the world how the United States and the (U.S. army) Southern Command are setting up Coordination Centres for Integrated Action, from which they occupy our territories with the aim of handing them over to multinational corporations along with the wealth of our peoples,” Valencia said.

He also recalled the legislation currently in force in Colombia, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, land rights, trade union rights and other basic rights, and called for “the drafting of a peoples’ agenda that will allow us to go from a country with owners and without the people to a country of the people without owners.

http://weblogian.com/?p=22