Friday, October 31, 2008

Pueblos Indígenas Colombianos Marcharán a Bogotá


Autor: Coordinación General CAOI

Luego de que Álvaro Uribe incumpliera su palabra de ir hasta la ciudad de Cali para iniciar el diálogo, las organizaciones indígenas proponen que las conversaciones con el gobierno se realicen en la localidad de La María de Piendamó, corazón de las movilizaciones y donde la represión a la Minga fue más cruel.

Bolivia, Ecuador, Perú, Colombia, Chile, Argentina


Diálogo con el gobierno se realizaría en La María de Piendamó, corazón de las movilizaciones indígenas

Los Pueblos Indígenas colombianos, articulados en la Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia, ONIC, integrante de la CAOI, decidieron marchar hacia Bogotá, para exigir al Gobierno de Álvaro Uribe que atienda sus demandas. La Minga Indígena y Popular por la Resistencia continúa, con el apoyo creciente de la sociedad colombiana y la solidaridad que llega desde todos los rincones del mundo.

Luego de que Álvaro Uribe incumpliera su palabra de ir hasta la ciudad de Cali para iniciar el diálogo, las organizaciones indígenas proponen que las conversaciones con el gobierno se realicen en la localidad de La María de Piendamó, corazón de las movilizaciones y donde la represión a la Minga fue más cruel.

De esta manera, más de 50 delegados de regionales indígenas de Colombia definieron continuar caminando la palabra en un encuentro de diversidades por las regiones del país, con rumbo a Bogotá. En las deliberaciones, donde participaron regionales de Chocó, Valle, Córdoba, Risaralda, Huila, Nariño, Boyacá, Santanderes, César, Antioquia, Quindío, Cauca y delegados de la Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia - ONIC, se alertó frente al espectáculo mediático montado por el presidente Uribe, con el cual se pretendió hacer creer a la opinión pública que los indígenas habían incumplido la cita pactada en Cali, desconociendo que más de 45 mil personas iniciaron el debate público con una silla vacía: la silla del presidente.

Esta versión fue ratificada por Blanca Chancoso, de la Confederación Kichwa del Ecuador (ECUARUNARI), Marcial Arias, Miguel Palacín Quispe, Coordinador General de la Coordinadora Andina de Organizaciones Indígenas, CAOI, Pedro Nuny, y Manuel Ramiro Muñoz, delegado de Baltazar Garzón, en el informe de la Comisión Internacional de Garantes, entregado el 27 de octubre, donde se relatan aspectos de " Minga que sesionó en el parque del Centro Administrativo Municipal, sin la presencia del presidente Uribe, colocando una silla vacía en medio de las autoridades Indígenas y de la comisión de garantes, simbolizando de esta manera la espera".

La ONIC explicó que, con varias reuniones de emergencia, tanto del orden regional como macro regionales y nacional, la Minga definió continuar el proceso en dos líneas de acción: la primera, retomar el proceso de solidaridad con la comunidad indígena de La María de Piendamó que continúa invadida, allanada y desplazada por las fuerzas del Estado; y la segunda en el sentido de avanzar desde las diferentes regiones hasta Bogotá.

Lima, 29 de octubre de 2008.

Coordinación General CAOI

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Paradigm War at the Heart of Colombia Crisis

Two Conflicting Worldviews Visible in Government’s Response to Indigenous and Popular Mobilization; Also Evident in Media Coverage

By Mario A. Murillo

(October 30, 2008; Bogotá, Colombia)

The Indigenous and Popular mobilization in southern Colombia, or Minga, that began on October 12th, continues well into its third week, although its momentum has been slowed down somewhat in recent days, filling the movement with uncertainty as to what we can expect to happen next.

Last weekend, after a long march that brought up to 40,000 indigenous people to Cali, accompanied by hundreds of striking sugar cane workers, Afro-Colombian peasants, and a large representation of the women’s movement, protesters converged for a public meeting with President Alvaro Uribe on Sunday that never materialized. What was supposed to be the beginning of a long-term negotiation about the five main points on the people’s agenda turned into a short-lived photo-op that may have long-lasting consequences for the future of the popular movement.

Indeed, the most lasting image of last Sunday’s encounter in Cali was President Uribe, surrounded by his security detail and some ministers, standing on a pedestrian walk bridge overlooking where the communities had gathered hours earlier, using a megaphone to shout at the fading crowd, who yelled back at him in a moment of high tension, if not rousing street theater.

Uribe’s impromptu appearance at the site came hours after the massive public gathering with the indigenous leadership had begun, an empty chair on the stage symbolizing the President’s absence. President Uribe, citing unsubstantiated security concerns, wanted the leaders to meet with him at the studios of Tele-Pacífico in Cali for the face to face, going against the wishes of the indigenous representatives, who had demanded an open, public dialogue with the community, as opposed to one “behind closed doors.” Things quickly fell apart.

That night and throughout the next day, in countless news broadcasts on television and radio, and in print reports in all of the nation’s newspapers, the primary perspective people received was that of a disrespectful and out of control indigenous crowd screaming hateful statements at a victimized president, who came all the way from Bogotá to meet with them. Despite acting and appearing very un-presidential in this episode, losing his temper at the angry crowd while taunting them through the megaphone, in the end it could be seen as another public relations “golazo” for the image savvy head of state.

And now, several days removed from this unfortunate incident, it’s fair to say that the tens of thousands of indigenous and popular protesters who have been mobilizing throughout the country over the last 2-1/2 weeks are no longer making headlines. The country’s news media have moved on to bigger and better things, such as the dramatic escape of former Congressman and FARC kidnap victim Oscar Tulio Lizcano, who, with the help of a disgruntled guerilla deserter, managed to walk his way to freedom after eight years of captivity in the jungles. This is the kind of meaty stuff Colombian news consumers really want to hear about, not some pesky protesters made up of mostly black and brown people who, as one acquaintance recently said to me, “always want more than what they already have.”

It’s as if, once again, in the eyes of Colombian public opinion, indigenous people don’t exist.

The Minga Continues

Of course, this does not mean they’re not still mobilized. If anything, they remain in a state of high alert. Since Monday, the indigenous leadership has been meeting in urgency to develop a strategy to respond to the current crisis. The Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca has written an open letter to the president, reminding him of the commitments consistently broken by the government.

After Sunday’s fiasco, the government suggested it would meet with the leadership in Popayán, the capital of Cauca, this coming Sunday. However, this idea was quickly dispelled, as the community insisted on meeting directly with the president, but only on indigenous territory. On Tuesday it was confirmed that President Uribe had agreed to meet face to face with them in La Maria, in Piendamó, in northern Cauca, the indigenous reserve dubbed the “territory of peaceful coexistence,” where the Minga had initially started on October 12th, only to be met by the heavy hand of the public security forces sent in, ironically, by the president.

What’s not so clear at the moment is what will be on the agenda in Sunday’s meeting, and how serious the discussions will be. The five points that make up the basis of the protests are still on the table, but the government’s position, echoed in countless news reports over the last several days, continues to focus on the issue of lands that are supposed to be returned to the indigenous people of northern Cauca. Whether or not the broader agenda of the Popular Minga will be part of the dialogue is another question entirely.

This issue was cautiously addressed directly by the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca, ACIN, in a statement released over a week ago, when it was becoming clear that the government was hoping to change the subject and distort the main points of the protests.

In the October 21st missive, ACIN stated “It’s clear that our struggle…includes the issue of lands, which is transcendental for indigenous people. But we reiterate so that it remains totally clear, that we are not only demanding that the government comply with agreements and resolve the necessities and rights relating solely to the issue of lands; the issue of land is not a problem exclusive to the indigenous people, nor is it something that relates only to the department of Cauca.

The ACIN also reiterated its opposition to the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, which they described as “a fundamental component of our agenda of mobilization, and that must be addressed.” At the moment, the agenda for Sunday does not appear to include this issue.

But the bigger concern expressed to me by many people involved in the Minga is the damaging effect a narrowly focused meeting with the president can have on the future of the popular movement, which has been energized by the mobilization of the past several weeks. As ACIN writes in its website:

“The irresponsible management of these important issues by both the government and the commercial mass media, requires a highly conscientious mobilization of a broad cross section of sectors, and the consolidation and development of a practical national agenda to advance towards the country that is possible and necessary.”

The Sugar cane workers that joined the mobilization and who have been accompanied by the indigenous activists of northern Cauca since their strike began in mid-September understand this. So do the thousands of women from the organization Ruta Pacífica, who met their indigenous colleagues along the way to Cali one week ago today. The trade union movement that carried out its general strike last week, mentioning in their proclamations the importance of solidarity with the Minga Popular, also have it very clear that in order to shake the current regime, pressure has to come from many different sectors. There are many ways to say no. The indigenous communities cannot do it alone. But this, some fear, is exactly Uribe’s strategy.

Colombia’s Paradigm War

In short, the struggle for indigenous rights must not be seen as a one-dimensional struggle affecting a small proportion of the broader Colombian population, that is, the approximately two-million indigenous people living in the hundreds of resguardos throughout the national territory. Unfortunately, this shortsighted critique of the indigenous movement is shared by sectors of both the right and the left, and reflects a limited understanding of the historical processes that have unfolded in complex ways within the communities themselves. It also fails to recognize the diversity of the movement, the many organizations and political tendencies that make up the movement, and the manner in which, despite their significant differences, they have coalesced with other sectors of society to confront the intolerance of the Colombian establishment.

This multi-dimensional organizing process is manifesting itself right now in the ongoing Popular and Indigenous Minga, which, with the above-mentioned five-point agenda, started in La Maria, Piendamó, in northern Cauca on October 12th, and marched its way north to Cali from various points in southwest Colombia, where it was joined by thousands of striking sugar cane workers, union members representing Colombian truckers, the Ruta Pacífica women’s movement, Afro-Colombian peasants, and family members of the victims of paramilitary terror.

After the unfortunate developments of last Sunday, the people behind the Popular Minga are now waiting, once again, for the President to come to the territory of “Peace and Coexistence,” and meet with them on their terms, and in the same location where the communities were forcefully confronted by the military and police -with bullets, tanks and tear gas, I might add- over two weeks ago, resulting in at least three dead and over 120 wounded. It must not be forgotten that one of the motives of the mobilization was to get the President to address their five point agenda, which for the most part was ignored by the government and the news media until the situation got really ugly.

As I mentioned above, the primary concern right now for many of the most disciplined and respected leaders in the movement is what exactly will they be discussing with the President on Sunday when he and his entourage arrives in La Maria? Is the broader process of coalition-building and collective resistance being compromised?

By shifting the focus of the dialogue to the singular issue of returning indigenous land back to some communities in Cauca, the government of Alvaro Uribe is winning public opinion points by showing to the world that he is supposedly interested in resolving the “Indian problem.” Yet at the same time, Uribe is deliberately avoiding addressing the broader social and political platform that is the basis of today’s popular uprising. Yes, this uprising just so happens to be spearheaded by the indigenous movement, but it is representative of many other social actors not comfortable with the way things are in the country.

Their struggle is a multi-tiered battle in defense of a different way of seeing the world, what some might call a paradigm war.

On the one hand you have a highly centralized system of power that, under the cover of state institutions that receive their legitimacy through superficial democratic practices of elections, political parties, and “parliamentary debate,” is sustained by entrenched economic forces that have permanent and open access to those same institutions. This nexus of power is promoted and nourished by an incestuous mass media system operated by what on the surface appear to be independent actors, but who are undeniably cut out of the same narrow cloth of political, economic, and even racial privilege.

While there are occasional flashes of courageous independence that emerges from this media system, thereby cementing the myth of open, democratic participation in the public sphere, for the most part it is a highly commercialized, market-driven model that promotes rampant consumerism in its audiences while deliberately excluding a broad cross section of voices that represent the diverse Colombian nation. This media system, again and again, serves as a megaphone for the government to present its case to the public, allowing the president, his ministers and the military brass to justify their day-to-day actions, regardless of how undemocratic or repressive they may be.

Democratic Security Strategy Must Be Discussed

This system of power is also propped up by a state security and military apparatus that has never in its history been successful at providing truly comprehensive security for the vast majority of the population, choosing instead to operate only for those same interests that have dominated Colombian politics for generations. This “security” apparatus – the Armed Forces, the National Police, the intelligence services – has been confronted openly by a number of guerilla insurgencies over the last fifty years, resulting in a strategic stalemate that has rarely tilted in favor of one side over another.

However, this ongoing conflict has led the Armed Forces to resort to dirty war tactics that have targeted civilian populations first and foremost, either directly, as was the case in the 1970s and 1980s, or indirectly, through paramilitary proxies funded by narcotrafficking, as we’ve seen since the 1990s.

Today, under the guise of a “democratic security strategy” designed with the assistance and paid for primarily by the government of the United States, these dirty-war tactics in the name of counter-insurgency have supposedly been put in check, while successfully pushing back the guerillas in the process. Indeed, in the eyes of the government, there is no internal conflict in Colombia, but rampant terrorism that, slowly but surely, is being militarily defeated.

The apparent progress made on the battlefield against the guerillas of FARC over the last two to three years is presented to the public as good news that must continue, lest we fall back into the state of battlefield ineptitude and corruption that characterized the military’s response to the armed insurgencies for decades.

The latest revelations about the military’s use of “false positives” – that is, the brutal killing of innocents to demonstrate success in the war against “terrorism” - are nothing but aberrations in today’s Colombia, rectified in the eyes of public opinion by a high profile press conference called by the President where, with considerable indignation and authority, he announced the dismissal of some of these “rogue elements.” From Uribe’s perspective, the disgraced officers that committed these atrocities make the rest of the “well-respected” institution of the Armed Forces look bad.

The arrogant, almost authoritarian example he provides for the Generals and Colonels under his command – that is, to do things his way regardless of the consequences – is never presented as part of the problem. Could it be possible that Uribe’s constant accusations of “guerilla infiltration” in every manifestation of public discontent may be having an effect on the way army officers perceive innocent civilians in the countryside?

Meanwhile, meticulously-researched reports about this policy of terror being waged by Colombian security forces against non-combatants, put out by human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and the Fellowship of Reconciliation, are conveniently written off by the President and his ministers as having a deliberately political agenda. It is no coincidence that these issues are on the agenda of the Popular Minga, although one would be hard pressed to find any mention of it in the countless media reports about the protests over the last 18 days.

The government’s rosy view of how things are going in the country is especially welcomed by those sectors of the political and economic establishment that look to profit handsomely from the wealth of the country, be it through unbalanced free trade agreements like the US-FTA, or the limitless investment opportunities that exist in mining and Colombia’s other extractive industries. Very little consideration is given to the long-term impact these developments might have on the environment, or on struggling workers, peasants and indigenous communities. And yes, these concerns are on the agenda of the Minga.

The tens of thousands of people that are participating in the Popular Minga, and the countless others they represent back home in their communities, stand in the way of the permanent consolidation of this system of power. They are the other side of this paradigm war. Indeed, it is fair to say that today, the Minga’s moral legitimacy is more of a threat to the current regime than the guerillas themselves, who have become nothing but caricatures of their revolutionary past, while providing the perfect excuse for the regime to continue in its unrepentant intransigence.

This movement is multifaceted, and by no means homogenous, although it generally shares the vision of its ancestors of the need to protect Mother Earth through comprehensive community projects based on the principles of sustainable development and community participation. They have tried to carry this out through a complex process of grassroots communication and participation, keeping in mind the differences of perspectives that make up the collective will.

This organizational process of resistance has been sustained by an organic connection to the land, territory that has been consistently reduced and absorbed by the above-described system of power. As a result, the indigenous movement has become the primary obstacle to the corporate, undemocratic machinations of Uribismo, backed up unconditionally by U.S. imperial power.

Unfortunately, the voices of the indigenous communities – and the popular movement in general – continue to be marginalized and misrepresented by a media system that is driven by commercial, corporate consumerism. They have become a footnote in the daily presentations of the Colombian reality on television, radio and the newspapers, even when the events are unfolding right before our eyes, as they have been for the last three weeks. This process of invisibilization and distortion makes it that much easier for the dark forces of reaction to constantly change the subject, and shift the public’s attention through the use of sideshows and pseudo-events.

We can only hope that the wisdom of the indigenous leadership does not fall for these easy distractions, and remain true to the message and the objectives of the Popular Minga.

I’ll keep you posted on the latest developments over the next couple of days as I head down to La Maria.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Nasa Leader's NY Visit Last Week Captured on YOU-TUBE

Hello people,

As many of you know, Rafael Coicué, Nasa leader from Corinto, Cauca and representative of the ACIN, was recently in New York City for a series of meetings with community members, trade union activists, NGOs at the United Nations, and media interviews on WBAI Radio, Caracol Radio and some local newspapers.

Several friends who got together in the last minute to organize these meetings tell me everything went really well, and the committed people of New York's activist community responded positively to his message of resistance, as tens of thousands of people were mobilizing in the Popular Minga in Cauca.

A part of his talk at a community center in Astoria, Queens, organized by the Movement for Peace in Colombia, was recorded and posted on You Tube. I suggest you check it out, and if you have a chance, share it with some friends who want to get more details about the reasons for the indigenous and popular mobilization of the last several weeks.

There are two parts to this brief video posting, the first one features an introduction by Indigenous Activist and Broadcaster Tiokasin Ghosthorse, who welcomes Rafael with some words of solidarity.

I want to thank everybody who worked on making Rafael's visit to Washington and New York a success in terms of north-south solidarity, especially given the relative blackout in the US media about what is going on in Colombia right now. Along with testifying before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights of the OAS, Rafael was also featured on CNN en Español, Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now, and made contact with many individuals committed to changing the relationship between the US and the people of Colombia.

Special thanks to: Ramon Mejía, Brian Drolet, Jesus Avirama, Charlie Roberts, Critina Espinel, Natalia Cardona, Karah Woodward, Jose Schiffino, and of course, Tiokasin Ghosthorse.


A Racist Missive Sent to Leaders of the Minga Popular

For those of you who can read Spanish, forgive me for this extremely ugly post. It is a message sent to ACIN from a group that describes itself as the Colombian Association in Defense of the Fatherland, ASCOLDEPA. The unique thing about this letter is that it is signed by a Mario Rincón Nolva, as opposed to being anonymous, as these threatening messages of hate tend to be.

The alarming tone and overtly racist language in the letter remind us of the August 11th missive sent to ACIN and CRIC, which in a sense began the latest wave of violence directed against the indigenous movement in Colombia. The letter here starts of with the term: "Indios, Perros de mierda," and accuses the indigenous movement of being directed by guerilla-narco-terrorists, while the Uribe government is "backed by 7-million Colombians who are willing to pick up arms to defend the fatherland." It goes on to say, "Kill one indian for a pound of rice."

We must remain extremely vigilant, because it is after these types of deliberately harmful messages that we have seen violence directed at indigenous and peasant communities increase throughout Colombia in the past. And given the current context of the Popular Minga, still going strong despite the setbacks of this past weekend, it would not be surprising that repression from truly dark forces begins against the leadership of the indigenous movement.


Indios perros de Mierda
[ 10/27/2008] [ Asociación de Colombianos en defensa de la patria ASCOLDEPA ] [ Autor: Mario Rincón Nolva]

De: abelardo Ruiz
Fecha: domingo, 26 octubre, 2008 8:22

Como se nota que los indígenas están gobernados por guerrilleros, pues les dolio el rescate del Doctor Lizcano y su dolor no los dejó hablar con nuestro presidente.

Las marchas indígenas en nuestro país están auspiciadas por todas aquellas fuerzas o grupos que buscan desestabilizar al gobierno, pero no lo van a lograr porque a nuestro presidente lo respaldan más de siete millones de colombianos, verdaderos colombianos, dispuestos a empuñar las armas para defender la patria de parasitos como los indígenas del siglo XXI.

El gobierno debería de revisar en manos de quien están las tierras colombianas que poseen los indios en nuestro territorio, encontrarán que un gran porcentaje lo poseen los mal llamados líderes indígenas, que no son más que emisarios del grupo narcoterrorista de las FARC y de la izquierda latiamericana, y así se atreven a llamar a nuestros campesinos "terratenientes, paramilitares y narcotraficantes". Como vemos que las cosas van por otro lado y que no estamos en Ecuador o Bolivia el pueblo colombiano (blanco en su mayoría) les exige respeto hacia nuestras instituciones y hacia nuestro presidente y si no lo aceptan iniciaremos una campaña que diga:


Indios perros de mierda, ustedes no alcanzan a ser el 1% de la población colombiana y como se atreven a decir que el presidente Alvaro Uribe Velez no representa al pueblo, para su conocimiento fue elegido por más siete millones de verdaderos colombianos y no por guerrilleros y terroristas patirrajados como son ustedes. que lastima que los conquistadores españoles no los hubieran erradicado totalmente del territorio Americano .

No nos cansamos de preguntarnos, ¿Qué hacen los pueblos indígenas por Colombia? y la respuesta siempre es - nada y nada es nada.


Mario Rincón Nolva
Asociación de Colombianos en defensa de la patria ASCOLDEPA

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,; Gina Cosentino,
Government Relations and International Affairs Senior Advisor, National
Chief's Office, AFN, (613) 241-6789 ext. 356,

Monday, October 27, 2008

Otra versión sobre el uso de armas de fuego contra la movilización indígena del Cauca

This important missive was posted yesterday on the website of ACIN. It is worth considering as the media war continues between the President and his ministers on the one hand, and the Indigenous movement on the other. As you have probably heard by now, on Sunday there was no "meeting" between President Uribe and the leadership of the Popular Minga. The President arrived several hours late to Cali, and did not make it to the place where the indigenous communities had been expecting him. When he did arrive, he was shouted down by angry protesters, although it was presented in the Colombian media as if the communities are not serious about having a real dialogue. I'll post more on this in a little while, but if you can, check out this missive from the Platform of Human Rights and Peace.

Autor: Plataformas de Derechos Humanos y Paz

Las Plataformas de Derechos Humanos y Paz, ante la versión ofrecida por el Presidente Álvaro Uribe en todos los canales de televisión y de radio nacionales, donde reconoce cómo los altos mandos le habrían mentido sobre el uso de armas de fuego para reprimir las protestas de los indígenas en el Cauca, quieren dar a conocer las siguientes consideraciones sobre hechos que nos constan a partir del acompañamiento realizado por varias de nuestras organizaciones parte, y que permite demostrar que dichos comportamientos, más que ser una actuación aislada de un carabinero, han constituido un método recurrente y sistemático de la Fuerza Pública en esta movilización, estimulado por los señalamientos presidenciales:

1. Varias organizaciones de estas plataformas hemos estado presentes acompañando la Minga en Resistencia de las organizaciones sociales del Cauca, en calidad de observadoras, verificando que se respete el derecho a la protesta, se haga uso de mecanismos constitucionales y proporcionales para disuadir a los manifestantes en eventuales acciones violentas, identificando la presencia de personas extrañas a las comunidades en las manifestaciones y tratando de evitar hechos que pongan en riesgo la integridad de cualquier persona involucrada en estas manifestaciones sociales.

2. Se constató que durante la Minga en Resistencia, llevada a cabo en el territorio de convivencia, diálogo y negociación de La María en el municipio de Piendamó, agentes de la Fuerza Pública, de manera reiterada y sistemática, hicieron uso de armas de fuego de largo alcance para reprimir a los manifestantes. Miembros de organizaciones de nuestras plataformas informaron de estos hechos a diferente Coroneles de la Policía del Departamento del Cauca, de apellidos Montezuma, Salcedo, Bravo y Camacho, quienes en varias ocasiones reconocieron dicha actuación, ya que se llevaban a cabo en su presencia, e hicieron llamadas por los radios de comunicación donde expresaron claramente: “detengan los disparos porque aquí hay personas de Derechos Humanos”.

3. Que, de la misma forma, periodistas internacionales y nacionales, así como defensores de Derechos Humanos, hicieron presencia en la parte interna del Resguardo Indígena de La María, donde se debieron refugiar los manifestantes para protegerse de los disparos, y por varios días pudieron constatar que los indígenas no lanzaban objetos explosivos ni utilizaban armas de fuego. Los mecanismos utilizados por los indígenas fueron solamente sus bastones de mando, garrotes, piedras y caucheras.

4. Anotamos con preocupación que, de no haberse constatado a través de videos divulgados por algunos medios de comunicación, se seguiría negando el uso de armas de fuego de largo alcance por miembros de la Policía Nacional, y muy seguramente se estaría insistiendo en la aludida explicación de que son los indígenas quienes se están disparando a sí mismos. Es importante señalar que muchos indígenas han ingresado a los centros hospitalarios de Piendamó, Popayán, Santander de Quilichao y Cali con heridas de armas de fuego, y demandamos con urgencia una investigación objetiva que establezca si las mismas fueron causadas por elementos de uso privativo de la Fuerza Pública.

5. El día miércoles 15 de Octubre, cuando la fuerza pública iniciaba el desbloqueo de la carretera Panamericana, tractomulas que estaban en la larga fila fueron atacadas por indígenas en cercanías al peaje de Tunía. Miembros de organizaciones de las Plataformas constataron cómo un civil llegó en una moto y disparó una pistola desde la carretera Panamericana hacia los matorrales. Sumándose a éste, dos policías uniformados quienes entraron a los matorrales y, de manera indiscriminada, dispararon contra los manifestantes sus armas de dotación.

6. Denunciamos el uso, por parte de la fuerza pública, de los “recalzados”, que han causado heridas a cerca de cien indígenas, lo cual sugiere un uso reiterado de esta modalidad. En esta técnica se desmontan las capsulas de gas o se usan las ya descargadas para llenarlas de puntillas, alambres, bolas de cristal y pequeñas piedras (se recalzan) que terminan incrustadas en la piel y en especial en los ojos, pues las disparan directamente hacia la cara. Denunciamos que en estas jornadas de protesta y Liberación de la Madre Tierra han sido asesinados LORENZO LARGO, BELISARIO CAMAÑO HUETOTO, PEDRO PASCUÉ, JESÚS ANTONIO NENE Y TAURINO RAMOS, y más de otros cien indígenas han sido heridos. Una investigación pronta y eficiente, con acompañamiento internacional, permitirá dilucidar si los disparos fueron perpetrados por la Fuerza Pública y constituyen un hecho aislado como dice el Gobierno, o, como lo comprobamos nosotros, una práctica masiva, recurrente y sistemática.

7. Igualmente, se pudo constatar que los indígenas maltrataron a un periodista de CMI y a otro de RCN, hechos que fueron puestos en consideración de las autoridades indígenas, quienes se comprometieron a reconvenir dentro de los procedimientos propios a quienes realizaron dichas acciones.

8. Nos preocupa la forma como el Presidente de la República, desde el uso que hace de manera discrecional de los medios de comunicación, intenta hacer aparecer la actuación desproporcionada de la Fuerza Pública, para reprimir y criminalizar la protesta social, como un conjunto de meros hechos aislados, cuando al mismo tiempo, desde esos mismos medios, ha efectuado diversas manifestaciones y señalamientos a los líderes de la protesta de ser “terroristas y subversivos”, poniendo así su vida en riesgo permanente, y convirtiendo el derecho a la protesta social en un acto que debe ser reprimido como proveniente de acciones del terrorismo .

9. El movimiento indígena, junto a otros sectores de campesinos, mujeres, estudiantes, destechados, victimas, afrodescendientes y mestizos, viene desarrollando procesos de articulación que buscan que sean atendidos sus reclamos no sólo frente a sus derechos a la vida y a la tierra, sino frente a los impactos negativos que en su vida y sus derechos tienen los tratados de libre comercio, la Ley de desarrollo rural, la ley de minas y otras medidas que, como la ley forestal, declarada inconstitucional por la Corte Constitucional, no han contado con el consentimiento libre, previo e informado de las comunidades afectadas por la aprobación de estas normas; están haciendo uso del legitimo derecho a la expresión, movilización y protesta, que en este caso han sido respondidas como un asunto de orden público.

10. Las Plataformas de derechos y paz exigimos que mediante un proceso de diálogo abierto y democrático se atiendan los justos reclamos de las comunidades indígenas y demás sectores sociales que mediante el ejercicio de su derecho constitucional a la protesta social vienen demandando atención a la vulneración histórica y actual de sus derechos. Así mismo, solicitamos que se ponga fin al uso excesivo y desproporcionado de la fuerza por parte de las autoridades como respuesta a los conflictos sociales y que se investigue y sancione la presunta utilización de armas de fuego por parte de la Fuerza Pública que habría ocasionado la muerte de varios indígenas y marchantes y las heridas a más de 100 personas.

Octubre 25 de 2008


Conformada por 140 organizaciones sociales colombianas


Conformada por 754 organizaciones sociales, de paz y de derechos humanos colombianas

Conformada por 199 organizaciones sociales y de derechos humanos colombianas

Conformada por 110 organizaciones sociales y de derechos humanos colombianas

Friday, October 24, 2008


From the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia, ONIC

A pesar de la reiterada posición del Presidente Álvaro Uribe de no dialogar mientras no se levantara la movilización de los Pueblos, y no ceder a lo que él llama presiones, este domingo se sentaran frente a frente las Autoridades Indígenas con el Mandatario Nacional en la ciudad de Calí. De gobierno a gobierno.

“Porque las Autoridades Indígenas no le dan la espalda a su pueblo, que es el que manda”, en comunicado público le ratificaron al presidente que la cita no era Popayán sino Cali.

Frente a la posición autónoma de las Autoridades Indígenas, el Mandatario Nacional, comunicó esta tarde vía telefónica a la dirigencia de la Minga Nacional de Resistencia Indígena y Popular, que acepta sentarse a dialogar este domingo en la capital de Valle del Cauca.

Ante lo cual, el gobierno indígena confirmó que desde esta noche preparan la metodología y definirán el punto de encuentro en Cali este domingo; así lo ratificó el Consejero Mayor de la ONIC, Luis Evelis Andrade.

Cabe destacar que se mantiene el debate alrededor de los cinco puntos de la agenda en la Minga Nacional de Resistencia Indígena y Popular:

- Derecho a la vida, derechos humanos y resarcimiento del buen nombre de los Pueblos Indígenas.
- Cese de la agresión y ocupación territorial.
- Adopción de la declaración de la ONU sobre pueblos indígenas.
- Legislación del despojo que coloca en riesgo la pervivencia de los pueblos.
- Cumplimiento de acuerdos incumplidos con organizaciones y movilizaciones sociales.

Mientras tanto, siguen caminando la palabra desde Villa Rica en el departamento del Cauca y desde la glorieta la Cabaza en el departamento del Valle del Cauca, rumbo a Cali.

Siga los acontecimientos en la radio virtual Dachi Bedea

Contacto nacional: 315-8572995 Consejero Mayor ONIC, Luis E. Andrade y Aída Quilcue, Consejera Mayor del CRIC, 310-7871382.

ComunicaONIC (312-6394123)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Who is Behind Today’s Six Bomb Blasts in Bogotá?

As Indigenous Protesters Camp in the Darkness of Villarica, Cauca - on Their Way to Cali for Monday’s Popular Minga - Fear of Real “Dark Forces” Lingers Overhead

By Mario A. Murillo (Bogotá, Colombia; October 23, 2008)

The explosion of six small bombs in different points of the north and west of the Colombian capital of Bogotá marked…a chaotic day with a total of 16 people wounded, none seriously. The most important thing to keep in mind in the face of this wave of terrorism is the need to stay calm, not to exaggerate these incidents, nor contribute to the state of collective fear by creating alarmist interpretations or irrational theories.

So begins Friday’s front-page editorial, posted Thursday night on the website of Colombia’s paper of record, El Tiempo.

Despite the editorial’s words of reasoned caution, I cannot help but try to interpret what these coordinated actions of small-scale attacks actually represent, given the current context of what went on in the rest of the city and throughout the country on this same day.

Indeed, these are extraordinary times in Colombia:

• The Indigenous and Popular Mobilization, or Minga, spearheaded by the Nasa communities of northern Cauca, but joined by the entire national indigenous movement throughout the country, continued in its long, deliberate march towards Colombia’s third largest city, Cali, reaching the municipality of Villarica after three days on the move, as thousands of women, peasants, and non-indigenous workers accompanied them along the way;

• The Central Workers Union, CUT, organized and held a successful general strike involving educators, health care providers, and a broad cross section of other public sector workers, who marched into downtown Bogotá and into other cities to protest salaries that have not kept up with inflation, among other issues;

• The predominantly Afro-Colombian cane cutters continued to maintain their disciplined work stoppage in the massive sugar plantations throughout the southwest of the country, marking 39 days of resistance to working conditions that at best can be described as indentured servitude, this despite consistent accusations from the government of being “manipulated by dark forces,” and the arrest of six of its primary leaders earlier in the week;

• On Wednesday night, the same night that President Alvaro Uribe finally admitted that government forces had fired weapons at indigenous protesters in last week’s mobilizations in the municipality of Piendamó, (something he was forced to do once CNN presented videotape footage of the incident on international television), the owners of some of the biggest plantations called on the government to declare a “state of commotion” on the striking workers, which would have given the public security forces the green light to forcibly remove the cane cutters from their makeshift encampments blocking the entrances to the plantations, a show of force against the constitutionally-protected, non-violent, civil disobedience being carried out by these workers now for over a month.

• The director of the Department of Administrative Security, DAS, the government’s internal security agency, was forced to resign after it was revealed that agents within her department were illegally monitoring the movements of leading opposition figure and potential presidential candidate Gustavo Petro of the Alternative Democratic Pole, PDA. These revelations came just days before partisans were going to vote on the Party’s slate for the upcoming PDA Congress.
If we weren’t in a Colombia governed by President Uribe, it would not be an exaggeration to say that Thursday marked the start of what, for all intents and purposes, could be described as a popular uprising against a very unpopular government.

But why the six bombs in Bogotá?

The editorial writer for El Tiempo, (which just so happens to be owned by the Vice President’s family) tells us we should not come to any preconceived conclusions that ultimately play into the hands of terrorists by “planting uncertainty in the people,” thereby destroying “the confidence the country has recuperated in its institutions.”

It is ironic that this so-called “confidence” in the country’s institutions comes amidst the troubling revelations at the DAS, the mass indigenous mobilizations in the south, and the ongoing Para-política scandal surrounding close allies of the president, a scandal that, for various reasons, seems to have been put on hold for the time being as the media focus on other unfolding crises. Less than a week ago, Human Rights Watch put out a report that documented how the Uribe administration was directly interfering with the ongoing investigations of various Uribe supporters linked to right wing paramilitary groups, making it almost impossible for investigators to get to the bottom of the situation.

All of this points to an accelerated crumbling of public confidence, despite the constant drumbeat of the corporate media, reminding us of the unprecedented popularity of Mr. Uribe. Can those numbers be for real, given the objective reality surrounding the country today?

But what does this have to do with six bombs going off in Bogotá on the same day so many other things were seemingly going wrong?

While no one has claimed responsibility for the bombings, El Tiempo assures us that “all of us know where these bombers come from and what their objectives are,” ironically just one paragraph after urging the reader not to jump to any hasty conclusions.

A guerilla that, after 40 years of armed struggle, finds itself at its highest level of unpopularity and isolation might think that placing bombs in public spaces is one way to have a presence, and debunk interpretations that point to its growing weakness,” reads the editorial.

This is the conventional wisdom repeated again and again by Colombian military officials and echoed regularly in the media. The guerillas are on permanent retreat, so they have now moved on to acts of utter desperation. In fact, today we heard reports that Alfonso Cano, the commander of FARC, had been wounded in the hand during recent combat, and that the top leadership is, for all intents and purposes, completely surrounded.

To its credit, the editorial I keep referring to rightfully pointed out that FARC has always rejected the idea of using urban terrorism as an expression of its political survival in its texts and speeches. However, it goes on to state unequivocally that “everything indicates that today” things are different.

So, if these mindless, seemingly well-coordinated, yet small-scale bomb attacks are proven to be the work of FARC, how should we perceive it within the current state of affairs? Well, once again, the profound bankruptcy of the guerillas’ reactionary ideals will be placed under the national and international spotlight, the relentless peddling of random violence as some revolutionary moment. This would be most unfortunate, precisely because these acts are being carried out at the same time that millions of other working Colombians are struggling to have their voices heard, mobilizing under the most difficult conditions to truly transform a nation that is currently being led by a highly entrenched, yet what many perceive to be an illegitimate regime. The popular and indigenous movements’ righteous demands are inevitably and tragically overshadowed by the “public fear” that is automatically thrust to the forefront of the news agenda.

Whose interests, in this scenario, are actually being served?

But what if these six bombs are not the work of FARC?

As the El Tiempo editorial correctly argues, “to synchronize these acts to the day that there is a peaceful national strike and when there are social marches unfolding in the rest of the country provides ammunition for those who look to criminalize social protest.”
And who, exactly, are they referring to here? From my standpoint, this is the most alarming aspect of today’s events, and should send shivers down the spine of anybody who has been paying close attention to developments in Colombia over the past several years.
Let’s take a quick step back over the last few months:

The sugar cane workers go on strike, demanding better working conditions…and they’re accused by President Uribe of being manipulated by “dark forces.”

The indigenous movement mobilizes to demand a dialogue with the government…and they are accused by President Uribe of being infiltrated by “terrorists.”

Independent journalists put out incriminating reports about possible corruption in the presidential re-election process of 2006…and they are accused by President Uribe of being treasonous.

And the state judicial workers go on strike for over a month, and the president declares a state of internal commotion, automatically assuming extraordinary powers relating to justice and security. Despite the judicial union’s announcement last week of the suspension of their strike, President Uribe has not rescinded the state of internal commotion. Many observers are asking why?

Do we sense a pattern here?

I just spoke by telephone to one of the organizers of the Minga Popular, who was sitting in the encampment in Villarica, Cauca, where the thousands of protesters have chosen to stop for the night until they resume their long trek towards Jamundí on Friday morning, hoping to arrive in Cali by the weekend. He tells me the movement remains united, despite reports that some indigenous leaders in Cauca’s capital, Popayán, had agreed to meet with President Uribe in one of his highly stage-managed communal councils over the weekend.

“This is false,” he said. “The people camped out in Villarica are committed to holding their massive popular assembly in Cali on Monday, hoping the president will agree to meet with them there, on their terms.”

He then told me that the lights in the encampment have been mysteriously shut off.

The mood amongst the indigenous people gathered remains very positive and focused, he assured me, although there is an ominous feeling hovering above just about everybody there.

Today’s events were in many ways unprecedented, but at the same time overwhelming for them.

They don’t want to jump to any conclusions about what might be behind these six explosions.

But some of them fear for the worst.

Rafael Coicué on CNN en Español

Rafael Coicué, long-time activist and survivor of the 1991 Nilo massacre, where 20 Nasa indians were gunned down by paramilitaries working in collaboration with the National Police and local landowners in Northern Cauca, is currently in Washington, DC, where he will be testifying before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the OAS. His brother was killed in the 1991 massacre. Coicué himself was shot by special forces police in his native Corinto in July 2008, losing an eye in the process. He was on CNN in Español on Wednesday.

He will be speaking in several events from Friday to Sunday, October 24-26th, in New York City. For more details about these events, check out the website of First Voices Indigenous Radio, which has been covering the developments in Cauca for the last several weeks.

Report on Cauca on Democracy Now

Indigenous Colombians Begin 10,000-Strong March Against Uribe Government

TEXT From Democracy Now Website:

More than 10,000 indigenous Colombians have begun a protest march against President Alvaro Uribe. Marchers are protesting the militarization of their territories, the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, and the failure of Uribe’s administration to fulfill various accords with the indigenous communities. We speak to Rafael Coicué, an indigenous leader who lost sight in his left eye when he was assaulted by masked gunmen in his home, and Mario Murillo, a US journalist and professor currently in Colombia.

On Thursday, October 23, Democracy Now had this brief report about the situation in Cauca and the rest of the country.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Indigenous and Popular March Towards Cali Continues

As the mass popular mobilization in Cauca and the rest of Colombia continues, the government of Alvaro Uribe finally addressed the five point agenda of the Popular and Indigenous Minga, a small step forward after over a week of intense military confrontations with the protesters. Yesterday, just before indigenous and peasant communities were about to begin their long march towards the city of Cali, the Minister of Agriculture, Andrés Felipe Arias, finally recognized the points in the name of the national government, albeit in a superficial and roundabout way.

This initial recognition of the five points has been superceded today, Wednesday, as the Minister of Defense, Juan Manuel Santos, continued to point out that the indigenous protesters were the violent ones who were “firing on Colombian special police forces” during last week's confrontations on the Pan American highway.

While on the one hand, the government claims it is willing to resolve this problem, arguing that it will "buy some lands" in order to keep the people quiet, they continue with their harsh accusations and unconciliatory tone, consistent with the last six years of the Uribe Administration.

So as the popular march moves forward – with people from all over the south converging on Santander de Quilichao today - bringing together indigenous and peasants with sugar cane workers and Afro-Colombian communities who will march for the next several days towards Cali, it is important to keep in mind the very important message the Popular Minga is putting forward to the entire nation.

In a sense, it’s a very detailed response to the many distortions that continue to make their way through the corporate media filters about what it actually is that the communities are calling for.

FROM ACIN, Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca

1. It’s clear that our struggle…includes the issue of lands, which is transcendental for indigenous people. But we reiterate so that it remains totally clear, that we are not only demanding that the government comply with agreements and resolve the necessities and rights relating solely to the issue of lands; the issue of land is not a problem exclusive to the indigenous people, nor is it something that relates only to the department of Cauca. We will continue to present our profound ideas and proposals relating to this issue, based on abundant experience, evidence, and documentation that exists, such that we will expose the superficial pronouncements that the government keeps making about this issue, including from the President himself. In essence what we are demanding is that the government comply with agreements already made, which public opinion should be made aware of. Given that accords and conventions already exist, we are not looking to negotiate anything new at the current moment, but that the government complies with what has already been agreed upon.

2. Regarding the issue of the Free Trade Agreements: First of all, we reiterate with total clarity that yes, this issue is a fundamental component of our agenda of mobilization, and that it must be addressed. We remind the national government that the FTA with the United States has already gone through its legislative cycles in Colombia and has been approved by the National Congress. Although we have serious concerns about the entire process of negotiation of the accord, of the lack of consultation and the manner in which it was approved, at the moment, the U.S.-Colombia FTA is in the hands of the United States Congress. Recognizing this reality, we propose that mechanisms of interlocution with the U.S. Congress be established. It makes no sense to debate the issue with the Colombian government. Our reasons for rejecting this and other similar treaties have been expressed broadly and repeatedly. We also must remember that we organized and held transparent, internationally verified, and democratic consultations on the FTA in the past, where 98% of the voters in Cauca gave an overwhelming “NO” to the FTA.

3. Regarding the issue of what we call the “Laws of Dispossesion,” we point to Law 1152 or the so-called Rural Statute, as a perfect example. We embrace as a precedent the ruling made by the Honorable Constitutional Court (Sentence C-030 of 2008) that declared as unconstitutional the Forestry Law (the court ruled that the measure was approved by Congress without the prior consultation of indigenous communities, as protected by the Colombian Constitution). With this in mind, we demand that the Rural Statute, the Mining Code of 2007, the Plans for Water Privatization, and all the other laws that should be brought before the people under the provisions of Prior Consultation, be reconsidered, according to Treaty 169 of the International Labor Organization, represented in Law 21 of 1991, and protected in the Colombian Constitution. Based on this demand, we call on the immediate nullification of all these laws (starting with the Rural Statute) and the presentation before the Congress of new bills that will replace them, which will be based on the consideration of results and contents emerging from an appropriate, democratic process of prior consultation with the communities.

4. With regards to the “Democratic Security” policy of the government, we repudiate the ongoing assassinations of indigenous people, on average more than 100 per year during the six years of the presidency of Dr. Alvaro Uribe Vélez, 17 of which were carried out between the 17th of September, 2008, and today, October 21. Eight of these assassinations were carried out by the public security forces, one by the guerillas, four by paramilitaries and the other four victims by unknown actors. The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia, ONIC, has been putting together a comprehensive report of the serious and systematic violations of human rights carried out against indigenous people, yet there has been no serious or effective commitment on the part of the government to put a stop to this dirty war, to carry out thorough investigations into these crimes, so that they don’t remain in absolute impunity, and that guarantees can be established to protect the life and the security of individuals and collectives, in coordination with the indigenous authorities and the people. The record of the National Government vis a vis indigenous people is shameful.

The diagnosis and recommendations made by the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples continue to be valid. There is evidence of a deterioration of conditions that point to an ethnocide and genocide, in some cases leading to the extinction of various peoples. To this we add the criminal and war-like treatment of our current mobilization, something that warrants an investigation resulting in documentation that will lead to the truth, justice and integral reparations for indigenous people. At the moment, as a consequence of the false accusations that the government and the public security forces have made against us, calling us terrorists manipulated by FARC, we have been indirectly drawn into the internal armed conflict, and in turn, everybody involved in the Popular Mobilization of the last few days is under imminent risk of attacks against our integrity, and individual security.

We hold the government responsible for having created this situation of risk and imminent threat against our people. The state, which has the duty to protect us, actually threatens us. As a consequence, we find it necessary that there be an immediate presence such as an international commission allowed into the territories, in order to assume concrete functions that could result in a response to this grave situation.

During the current mobilization, and throughout his mandate, President Uribe and his government have taken on an extremely alarming attitude towards indigenous people, insisting on negating our specific rights, which he should recognize and guarantee us given his constitutional mandate as head of state. He insists on presenting these rights as undeserved or abused privileges, with the objective of generating resentment against us, and promoting conflict with other social sectors. We are calling attention to these attitudes and these dangerous policies, which continue to generate discrimination and promote prejudice.

The President and his minister of Agriculture manipulate statistics and interpret some of our actions in distorted ways in order to get the rest of the Colombian population to believe that we receive unwarranted privileges, or worse yet, that we are responsible for the problems and difficulties they as different sectors face. These manipulations are false and are not based on reality. Poverty and social injustice affect us all, and they are the responsibility of deliberate state policies that victimize us all.

We reaffirm our commitment to the well being of all peoples, with equality and social justice, and we do so as ancestral and ancient peoples. Therefore, we demand that the government stop deliberately confusing the guarantee of collective rights, social justice and equality, obligations permanently delayed or negated by the state, with the right to differences and the respect for diversity.

As Indigenous peoples, we demand that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People be ratified by the Colombian State as a law of the Republic. At the same time, we support the specific rights of other peoples and social sectors, always within the frame of social justice and equality. What for us is abhorrent and should disappear immediately is the high concentration of land and wealth, and the laws that guarantee benefits and privileges to political bosses, wealthy landowners, the upper classes and transnational corporations at the expense of poverty and exploitation of the majority.

Once our full agenda is recognized, the much-delayed process of resolving our many differences in a serious and integral way will finally begin. This will mean profound transformations, not only for indigenous people, but for all social sectors and the entire country. This requires understanding this reality in a very serious and mature fashion. To continue to postpone these transformations is irresponsible, and will send the country in a direction that up to now only benefits a few interests, and in the short term is unsustainable, even for those same interests. To transform Colombian institutionality in order to benefit all of society is necessary, possible and inevitable.

The irresponsible management of these important issues by both the government and the commercial mass media, requires a highly conscientious mobilization of a broad cross section of sectors, and the consolidation and development of a practical national agenda to advance towards the country that is possible and necessary. This popular Minga proposes to establish a solid path of the people, to march together in unity, through diverse voices and mutual respect, sharing the pain of one another as we walk towards life and liberty.

Asociación de Cabildos Indígenas del Norte del Cauca-ACIN ACIN – Cxab Wala Kiwe Santander de Quilichao, Octubre 20 de 2008.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Government Addresses Indigenous Movement's Five Main Points - Popular March to Cali Begins Today in Cauca

As mobilization in Cauca and the rest of Colombia continues, the government of Alvaro Uribe finally addressed the five point agenda of the Popular and Indigenous Minga, a small step forward after over a week of intense military confrontations with the protesters. The ACIN put out a response to the government's points, as they were getting ready to begin the long march to Cali over the next several days. Here is the Spanish version. I will send a synthesis in English in the coming hours. Also be sure to check out the report from the International Federation of Human Rights, (FIDH) which was distributed earlier by the Colombian human rights NGO Colectivo de Abogados (I just posted it on my blog).

Así vamos trabajando la agenda

Autor: ACIN

El Gobierno Colombiano menciona la existencia de la agenda de movilización de los pueblos. En este texto, avanzamos con un análisis serio de lo que esta implica y propone y lo sometemos a la consideración d ela opinión pública.

En la edición matinal del Noticiero de Caracol Televisión, el Ministro de Agricultura Andrés Felipe Arias finalmente reconoce a nombre del Gobierno Nacional, los cinco temas de la agenda de la Minga de los Pueblos. Aunque la presenta de manera displicente y distorsionada, este es un avance significativo frente a la actitud y declaraciones de los últimos días. Respondemos a este hecho avanzando con unas explicaciones y claridades para que la opinión pública comprenda lo que estamos proponiendo.

En estas líneas hacemos una lectura exclusivamente desde los pueblos indígenas, para ilustrar el análisis de la temática, entendiendo que aplican con especificidades a otros asuntos, pueblos, sectores y procesos.
1. Es claro que nuestra lucha, en el aspecto reivindicativo, incluye el tema de tierras que es trascendental para los pueblos indígenas. Pero lo reiteramos para que quede claro, no exigimos que se cumplan convenios y se resuelvan necesidades y derechos solamente en el tema tierras; el tema tierras no es un problema exclusivo de los pueblos indígenas ni se trata de una exigencia solamente para el Cauca. Sobre este tema seguiremos profundizando nuestras propuestas desde la abundante experiencia, evidencia y documentación que existe de modo que superemos los planteamientos superficiales que viene haciendo el Gobierno desde el propio Presidente. En esencia se trata de que el Gobierno cumpla con compromisos adquiridos que debe conocer la opinión pública. Dado que ya existen acuerdos y convenios, no buscamos negociar nada nuevo por el momento, sino que se de cumplimiento a lo convenido.

2. Frente al tema de los Tratados de Libre Comercio. En primer lugar reiteramos con toda claridad que sí es un tema trascendental de nuestra agenda de movilización y que debe ser abordado. Le recordamos al Gobierno Nacional que el TLC con los Estados Unidos ya cumplió su trámite en Colombia y ha sido aprobado por el Congreso de Colombia. Aunque tenemos reparos serios frente a todo el proceso de negociación, al carácter inconsulto del mismo y al trámite de aprobación, en este momento el TLC está en manos del Congreso de los Estados Unidos. Reconociendo esta realidad, proponemos mecanismos de interlocución frente al Congreso de los Estados Unidos. No tiene ninguna utilidad debatir el tema con el Gobierno de Colombia. Los motivos para rechazar este tratado y otros similares han sido planteados ampliamente y los reiteramos. Recordamos además que realizamos consultas populares transparentes, internacionalmente verificadas y democráticas en las que el 98% de los votantes dieron un rotundo NO al TLC.

3. El tema que hemos denominado “Legislación de Despojo” es ejemplificado por el Estatuto Rural o Ley 1152 de 2007. Tomamos como precedente la Sentencia C-030 de 2008 de la Honorable Corte Constitucional que declaró inexequible la Ley Forestal1 . En ese sentido exigimos que el Estatuto Rural, el código de Minas, los Planes de Aguas y todas las leyes que han debido ser sometidas a consulta previa según lo ordena el Acuerdo 169 de la OIT, Ley 21 de 19912 . Frente a esta demanda, exigimos que se deroguen de inmediato estas leyes (empezando por el Estatuto Rural) y se sometan proyectos de Ley al Congreso, que las sustituyan y que contemplen claramente los resultados y contenidos de un proceso apropiado y democrático de consulta previa.

4. En cuanto al tema de “Seguridad Democrática”, terror y guerra, repudiamos el repetitivo asesinato de indígenas, en promedio más de 100 por año durante los 6 años de presidencia del doctor Álvaro Uribe Vélez, 17 crímenes de los cuales han sido cometidos entre el 17 de septiembre de 2008 y el día de hoy, ocho (de ellos por la fuerza pública, uno (1) por la guerrilla, cuatro (4) por los paramilitares y dos (2) por autores aun no conocidos. La ONIC ha estado elaborando reportes sobre violaciones de derechos humanos de manera seria y sistemática, sin que se haya logrado un compromiso serio y eficaz por parte del Gobierno Nacional para que se detenga la guerra sucia y el terror contra los indígenas, se investiguen los hechos y no queden en la más absoluta impunidad y se establezcan garantías para la vida y seguridad de personas y colectivos en coordinación con los pueblos y autoridades indígenas. El record del Gobierno Nacional frente a los pueblos indígenas es vergonzoso. El diagnóstico y las recomendaciones hechas por el Relator Especial para los Pueblos Indígenas de Naciones Unidas, sigue siendo válido. Hay evidencia de un franco deterioro que apunta hacia el etnocidio y genocidio e inclusive la extinción de varios pueblos. A esto se suma el tratamiento criminal y de guerra que se le dio a la presente movilización, lo que amerita una investigación y documentación que conduzca a procesos de verdad, justicia y reparación integral a la vez que a la protección real de los pueblos indígenas en tanto pueblos y culturas y sujetos de derechos. En este momento, como consecuencia de los señalamientos fabricados y falsos que nos ha hecho el Gobierno y la fuerza pública como terroristas y manipulados por las FARC, nos ha involucrado directamente en el conflicto armado y en razón de esto, ha provocado un riesgo inminente de ataques contra la integridad, bienestar y seguridad individual y colectiva de todos los que hemos tomado parte en la Minga de los Pueblos. Responsabilizamos al Gobierno Nacional de haber creado esta situación de riesgo y de inminente amenaza contra nuestros pueblos. El propio Estado que debe protegernos, nos amenaza. En consecuencia, se hace necesaria la intervención y presencia inmediata de una comisión internacional que pueda asumir funciones concretas para que se de respuesta real a esta gravísima situación. Comisión para la que solicitamos la presencia y coordinación de James Anaya, Relator Especial para los Pueblos Indígenas de las Naciones Unidas.

Durante la presente movilización, al igual que durante todo su mandato, el Presidente Uribe y su Gobierno, han asumido una actitud particularmente preocupante frente a los pueblos indígenas, insistiendo en negarnos los derechos específicos que debe reconocernos y garantizarnos por mandato constitucional y legal. Insiste en presentar estos derechos como privilegios inmerecidos o abusos, en el propósito de generar resentimiento y promover conflicto con otros sectores sociales. Llamamos la atención sobre esta actitud y políticas peligrosas y amenazantes, que van generando discriminación y promoviendo prejuicios.

El Presidente y el Ministro de Agricultura manipulan cifras e interpretan diversos hechos de manera distorsionada para que otros sectores y la ciudadanía en general perciban que recibimos privilegios inmerecidos o que, peor aún, somos culpables de sus problemas y dificultades. Esto es falso y no tiene sustento en la realidad. La pobreza y la injusticia social nos afectan y son responsabilidad de las políticas de Estado de las que somos víctimas.

Afirmamos nuestro compromiso con el bienestar de todos los pueblos, con la equidad y la justicia social y lo hacemos como pueblos ancestrales y originarios. En consecuencia, exigimos que el Gobierno cese en su empeño de confundir la garantía de derechos colectivos, justicia social y equidad, obligaciones permanentes postergadas y negadas desde el Estado, con el derecho a la diferencia y el respeto por la diversidad.

Como pueblos indígenas, exigimos que la Declaración de las Naciones Unidas sobre los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas sea ratificada por el Estado Colombiano como Ley de la República. De la misma manera, respaldamos los derechos específicos de los demás pueblos y sectores sociales, siempre dentro un marco de justicia social y equidad. Lo que es aberrante y debe desaparecer es la concentración de tierras y riquezas y la legislación que garantiza beneficios y privilegios a gamonales, terratenientes, estratos altos y transnacionales a costa de la pobreza y explotación de la mayoría.

Una vez que nuestra agenda sea reconocida, comienza un proceso ya postergado de manera excesiva e innecesaria para abordarla y resolverla de manera integral y seria. Ello impone transformaciones profundas, no solo frente a los pueblos indígenas, sino para todos los sectores y todo el país. Se requiere asumir esta realidad de la manera más seria y madura posible. Seguir postergando estas transformaciones es irresponsable y está sumiendo al país en una sin salida que hasta ahora beneficia algunos intereses particulares, pero que resulta insostenible en el corto plazo, aún para quienes han acumulado beneficios. Transformar la institucionalidad Colombiana para beneficio de toda la sociedad, es necesario, posible e inevitable.

El manejo irresponsable que le da el Gobierno y los medios comerciales de comunicación a estos temas, requiere de la movilización consciente de amplios sectores y de la consolidación y desarrollo práctico de una agenda nacional en Minga para avanzar hacia el país posible y necesario. Esta Minga se propone establecer un camino sólido desde los pueblos para construir y poner en marcha una agenda de unidad, desde la diversidad y el respeto, a partir de sentir y compartir el dolor para que se haga camino de vida y libertad.

Asociación de Cabildos Indígenas del Norte del Cauca-ACIN
ACIN – Cxab Wala Kiwe
Santander de Quilichao, Octubre 20 de 2008.

1. Dice la sentencia literalmente_AA_CoLoN_ “Para que se hubiese cumplido con el requisito de la consulta habría sido necesario, poner en conocimiento de las comunidades, por intermedio de instancias suficientemente representativas, el proyecto de ley; ilustrarlas sobre su alcance y sobre la manera como podría afectarlas y darles oportunidades efectivas para que se pronunciaran sobre el mismo. Ese proceso no se cumplió, razón por la cual la Corte concluye que, dado que la ley versa sobre una materia que se relaciona profundamente con la cosmovisión de esas comunidades y su relación con la tierra, y que, por acción o por omisión, es susceptible de afectarlas de manera directa y específica, no hay alternativa distinta a la de declarar la inexequibilidad de la ley.

2. Por todo lo anterior, la Corte declarará la inexequibilidad de la Ley 1021 de 2006 “Por la cual se expide la Ley General Forestal”.

Monday, October 20, 2008

An Historic Day for Indigenous Peoples

The following message was sent by the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca, ACIN, on Sunday after

An Historic Day for Indigenous Peoples

"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 . 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.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Latest Press Release from ACIN (in Spanish) on Indigenous Mobilization

By 12 noon Sunday, one week into the Popular Mobilization in Cauca and the rest of the country, ACIN will hold a news conference to refute the claims of the government of Alvaro Uribe that an accord has been reached to put an end to the ongoing protests. Although they have pulled their blockade of the Pan American Highway, the indigenous movement insists that the mobilization will continue. They are denouncing the false representations of the protest in the major Colombian news media. Here is their latest press release, in Spanish. We will have more to follow shortly.

No hay acuerdos con el Gobierno.


Autor: Tejido de Comunicación ACIN

No se ha negociado ni alcanzado acuerdo alguno entre el movimiento indígena y el Gobierno Nacional. Las autoridades indígenas rechazan enfáticamente cualquier información o reporte sobre un supuesto acuerdo, a la vez que denuncian como una malintencionada manipulación -que solamente puede tener la intención de desinformar a la opinión pública...
Movimiento indígena anunciará sus decisiones en próximas horas.

El movimiento indígena acaba de tomar decisiones trascendentales para continuar con la Minga de los pueblos. Decisiones que serán informadas al país y al mundo el día de mañana, domingo 19 de octubre hacia el medio día.

Desde el día de ayer se vienen realizando reuniones de trabajo y consulta en el Territorio de Diálogo, Convivencia y Paz de La María Piendamó por parte de las autoridades y comunidades indígenas movilizadas en la Minga de los Pueblos. Al momento de redactar esta nota, aún se desarrollan las reuniones en las que han participado las autoridades de la ONIC. Más temprano se realizó un conversatorio en el que participaron, Naciones Unidas, la Conferencia Episcopal Colombiana, CODHES, la Corporación Minga, el Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo, otras organizaciones de derechos humanos y autoridades indígenas de otras regionales. Durante este encuentro, se presentaron informes y evidencias sobre los hechos ocurridos en la última semana, a la vez que se procedió a iniciar la verificación de la situación local y se escucharon testimonios.

Manifiestan las autoridades indígenas que a partir de las 20:00 horas del día 17 de Octubre de 2008, no se han realizado ningún tipo de bloqueos de vías por parte del Movimiento Indígena.

Mientras estas actividades se desarrollaban, el Gobierno Nacional, en cabeza del Presidente de la República continuó desinformando a la opinión pública durante un Consejo Comunitario y los medios comerciales de comunicación informaron sobre un supuesto acuerdo entre el Gobierno Nacional y el Movimiento Indígena como resultado de una reunión en Popayán.

Frente a estos hechos, informamos a la opinión pública lo siguiente:

1. Las autoridades reunidas en la noche del 17 de Octubre decidieron de manera unánime no reunirse con autoridades del Gobierno Nacional en consideración al tratamiento de terror y guerra que este ha dado al movimiento indígena, a su manipulación malintencionada de medios y al montaje público con el que el Gobierno Nacional los presentó como terroristas actuando supuestamente a nombre de las FARC. Para los indígenas, la falsedad, el terror, el engaño, son actitudes constantes del Presidente y del Gobierno Nacional, razones que impiden la más mínima confianza para poder realizar diálogos y llegar a acuerdos que tengan credibilidad.

2. No se ha negociado ni alcanzado acuerdo alguno entre el movimiento indígena y el Gobierno Nacional. Las autoridades indígenas rechazan enfáticamente cualquier información o reporte sobre un supuesto acuerdo, a la vez que denuncian como una malintencionada manipulación -que solamente puede tener la intención de desinformar a la opinión pública- los “reportes” que vienen transmitiendo los medios de comunicación y los comunicados emanados de fuentes del Gobierno. Cualquier reporte o documento de acuerdo es necesariamente fraudulento. “Es evidente que este tipo de maniobras responden al propósito de montar una trampa para difamar al movimiento indígena y denigrar nuestra lucha” enfatizó un líder indígena. Las autoridades hacen saber además que cualquier persona que se hubiera reunido con Ministros o representantes del Gobierno lo hizo a nombre propio, como fue el caso del encuentro entre diputados y ministros para promover un acercamiento en el día de hoy. Las autoridades señalan con espanto la actitud criminal, deshonesta y perversa del Presidente, de los Ministros y de los medios de comunicación que les vienen haciendo eco sin corroborar los hechos ni permitir el derecho de réplica. Que los Ministros del Interior y Justicia, de la Protección Social y de Agricultura fabriquen un acuerdo inexistente con el Movimiento Indígena bajo órdenes del Presidente de la República y le mientan a la opinión pública, cerrando todos los espacios de confiabilidad, legitimidad y credibilidad, son actos fraudulentos y criminales, propios de mafiosos y no de Gobernantes. Frente a estos hechos aberrantes, las autoridades consideran que se cierra toda posibilidad de diálogo y exigen un tratamiento de juicio de responsabilidades y condena a quienes actúan como delincuentes desde los más altos cargos del Gobierno Nacional.

3. Las autoridades manifiestan su intención de dar a conocer a la opinión pública Nacional e Internacional, a los Gobiernos del mundo, a los organismos multilaterales y a las demás instancias involucradas, afectadas y responsables en temas de justicia, derechos, libertades y democracia, que la respuesta que dio el Gobierno de Colombia a esta movilización pacífica fue la realización de un ataque militar. “Se nos trató como si fuéramos una fuerza de combate o terroristas, cuando somos pueblos sin armas”. La consecuencia de este tratamiento criminal contra una protesta social civil ha sido la muerte de por lo menos un comunero y por lo menos un centenar de víctimas, la mayoría como consecuencia de heridas por arma de fuego por parte de policías y militares. Esta reacción desproporcionada e injustificable ha sido encubierta y justificada por el Gobierno Nacional con montajes y maniobras mediáticas. Para las víctimas de estos hechos que cuentan con miles de testimonios directos, decenas de heridos y por lo menos un asesinado, además de evidencia mediática, merece una condena inmediata al Gobierno Colombiano, acciones urgentes por parte de entidades multilaterales e internacionales competentes, en la perspectiva de proteger a la población civil del Gobierno Colombiano y que se proceda a actuar en derecho frente a los criminales.

4. Las autoridades indígenas han decidido continuar el proceso de movilización hasta alcanzar los objetivos propuestos. Para ello realizarán acciones de carácter pacífico. Estas se vienen preparando desde el día de hoy. Se han suspendido los bloqueos de vías por cuanto la reacción del Estado frente a estos es criminal y conduciría a la masacre de civiles inocentes. El Gobierno Nacional actúa de manera irresponsable y criminal, lo cual impone el desarrollo de acciones directas de otro carácter. La decisión del movimiento indígena es continuar con las acciones de movilización popular masiva e insistir en su carácter pacífico. El Movimiento indígena convoca a todos los sectores sociales y populares a prepararse y movilizarse y los invita a unirse a las acciones de carácter pacífico que estaremos anunciando.

5. El Movimiento indígena agradece la solidaridad y movilización de otros sectores sociales en todo el país e invita a que estos se sigan manifestando de manera pacífica y decidida hasta alcanzar objetivos comunes de justicia y respeto en todo el territorio nacional. En consecuencia, las autoridades y comunidades indígenas insisten en exigirle al Gobierno Colombiano que respete a los demás sectores sociales y movilizaciones y que no les de el mismo tratamiento criminal que les ha dado a los indígenas. Las autoridades indígenas manifiestan su rechazo a cualquier agresión militar armada contra movilizaciones populares y acciones civiles de hecho. En este sentido reiteran la posición de lucha no armada y civil e instan a todos los procesos y movimientos sociales movilizados a insistir en este tipo de actos que rechazan en la práctica el uso de armas. Entiende el movimiento indígena la necesidad de defenderse con medios a su alcance en caso de ser agredidos, como ha sido necesario durante la Minga de los Pueblos. Nunca con armas de fuego o explosivos e intentando evitar la violencia.

6. La Minga de los Pueblos reitera su agenda de movilización de 5 puntos, la cual dará a conocer en las marchas y movilizaciones al país y al mundo, mientras denuncia el carácter criminal e ilegítimo del Gobierno Colombiano.

Las autoridades y comunidades desean que la opinión pública conozca estas decisiones y posiciones de manera preliminar, mientras se avanza en el desarrollo de comunicados oficiales. La Minga de los Pueblos se distancia y diferencia abiertamente del Gobierno de Álvaro Uribe Vélez una vez que este ha puesto en evidencia su ilegitimidad y deshonestidad.

Tejido de Comunicación y Relaciones Externas Para la Verdad y la Vida ACIN Octubre 18 de 2008, 20:45 horas