Sunday, October 12, 2008

Latest Press Release from Cauca Colombia on Indigenous Mobilization

From: Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca, ACIN

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Indigenous Communities Throughout Colombia Begin Mobilization Amidst Government Imposed State of “Internal Commotion”

Indigenous Activist Assassinated on the Morning of Mass Popular Protest in Northern Cauca

On the March: Popular and Indigenous Mobilization Underway in Colombia

Today we mark 517 years of resistance against an uninterrupted aggression. The Neo-liberal conquest, more cruel and technologically developed than the one that started with the European invasion, advances with its insatiable appetite of accumulation. This conquest joins rivers with oceans, crosses through mountains, cuts through forests and builds highways, thereby expelling populations, while robbing them of their ancestral wisdom, condemning to death cultures that are indispensable for the construction of life.

The actions of the current regime - at the permanent service of those foreign powers of accumulation that control it, trying to hide the collapse and the ruin of their stock exchanges and false gods - have generated an urgent crisis in the current context. It is a crisis that gets more acute with each passing day. They displace, lie, threaten, assassinate, forcing the people to resist at all costs.

With their own acts of terror against the people, they hope that we will respond with terror of our own, in order to justify an even greater military response against the people, converting the entire country - region by region - into a permanent theater for military operations.

Those actors who respond with terror to the terror of the current regime only serve the regime’s interests. This government obliges us to rise up in dignity, to resist and to mobilize, so that this country of owners and no people collapses, and in its wake a country of people without owners emerges! As the government carries out its ongoing circus throughout the country –the so-called community councils – we say no more spectacles! We begin our march today, and mobilize throughout the country for as long as it takes, despite the wave of violence directed against us.

Details of Today’s Assassination:
The indigenous civilian, Nicolás Valencia Lemus, 39, was driving his car on the road from the town of El Palo to the indigenous reserve of Toribio, in the mountainous region of northern Cauca. At the time, Valencia Lemus was accompanied by his wife and son. According to eyewitnesses, he was ordered to stop and get out of his car by two hooded gunmen who identified themselves as members of the “Aguilas Negras,” or Black Eagles, a new generation of paramilitaries, which has emerged in the last year since the “demobilization” of the AUC. The assassins proceeded to drill him with bullets in front of his family.

The incident occurred between 8:00 and 8:30am in a place known as “El Pajarito”, near the Huellas-Caloto resguardo or indigenous reserve. This communiqué contains initial information from reliable eyewitnesses, and we will continue to update the situation as more information becomes available. The assassins, before leaving the site of the attack, wrote “Águilas Negras” on the window of Valencia Lemus’ vehicle.

Nicolás is the brother of several well-known activists from Northern Cauca, and his assassination overwhelms us with anxiety and pain. We express our most deeply felt regrets to his family and friends, and all of the community of the resguardos of Toribío, Tacueyó and San Francisco. This vile and cowardly assassination is the latest of several murders that have been carried out in recent weeks against the community as part of a strategy of terror designed to derail the indigenous process of struggle in defense of life.

Whoever the sources of these attacks are, they only serve the interests of those who are against the people.

Today, October 12th, 2008, as we continue with our mass mobilization for the Commotion of the People - “Conmoción de los Pueblos” – and we commemorate 517 of resistance and pain, we demand that the assassination of Nicolás must be investigated and brought to justice! It should be pointed out that in the area where he was killed this morning, several armed groups have established a presence in the hopes of benefiting from these acts of terror against the people.

In the face of death, we continue and will continue to proclaim our rights and defend life and our dignity. Cowardly assassins of the people: The terror you cultivate will be your shame and condemnation! Your arms will not be enough, nor will your belligerent rhetoric be sufficient to cover the repugnant nature of your criminal acts. The loss of Nicolás Valencia Lemus pains us, but in his name we will struggle for justice.


Main Points of October 12th Popular Protest
1. No to Free Trade Agreements like the ones negotiated behind closed doors with the United States, Canada, the European Union, the European Association of Free Trade, or any other deal that looks to displace us of our rights, our culture, our knowledge and our territory.
2. No to the Constitutional Counter-reforms and legislation of displacement that has been implemented under the current government, measures that surrender our rights to private interests, and that submit us to silence and forced labor, to exclusion and ultimately death.

3. No to Plan Colombia, the so-called “Democratic Security,” or the Para-Politics of Alvaro Uribe’s government.

4. We demand that the government complies with a series of agreements, accords and conventions with the indigenous communities that up to now they have ignored systematically.

5. The Construction of a People’s Agenda: From a country of owners without people we want to build a country of people without owners. We march forward with our own pain, of 516 years of persecution and struggle without end, and we are committed to share and feel the pain of other peoples and processes.

Developments this week that expose the current crisis, and lead us to mobilize:

• Sugar Cane Workers, now almost one month into their unprecedented strike, are committed to continue with their national work stoppage, despite government claims that “dark forces” are behind the strike;

• The National Labor Federation, Central Unida de Trabajadores, CUT, announced its own national strike to reject outright the government’s declaration on Thursday of a “State of Internal Commotion.” This declaration, made by President Alvaro Uribe Vélez, was supposedly in response to the ongoing strike of ASONAL, the union representing judicial workers, now in its second month. What the declaration really does is give the government extraordinary powers to repress legal popular protest;

• The dirty war against the peasant, indigenous and popular movement continues; there was the recent massacre of three Embera Chamí Indians in the department of Caldas last week, which comes in the wake of other assassinations of indigenous Pastos, and Nasa, as well as peasants of the organizations CIMA, and ANUC, and a valiant leader of the women’s organization Ruta Pacífica de las Mujeres.

• In the name of popular resistance and the rights of the peoples, illegal armed groups have infiltrated our territories, and send messages of death and terror to the communities; they assume the right to sentence people to death, to threaten, and to impose their mandate on the people, with the intention of controlling our popular mobilization. In doing so, they plant the seeds of disorder to justify their language of bullets and explosions.

It is in the face of these developments that we march, in unity with all the popular sectors, against the tyranny of the regime and other armed actors who terrorize our communities.

Tejido de Comunicación y Relaciones Externas Para la Verdad y la Vida, ACIN

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