Monday, October 13, 2008

Second Day of Indigenous Movement’s Popular Mobilization Begins After Two Indigenous Community Members Were Killed on Day One

For Immediate Release:
October 13th, 2008

From: Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca, ACIN

Dirty War of Terror Being Waged Against Indigenous Movement in Colombia;
Second Day of Indigenous Movement’s Popular Mobilization Begins After Two Indigenous Community Members Were Killed on Day One

More than 7,000 indigenous activists and representatives of other popular and social sectors of the department of Cauca and the southwest of Colombia continue to congregate in the “Territory of Peace and Coexistence” in La Maria Piendamó, in Cauca. With this gathering, the popular mobilization, or Minga, is now in its second day, commemorating 516 years of resistance, and consolidating the “Commotion of the Peoples” against the current regime of terror, permanently at the service of the greed of transnational capital. Simultaneously, there are various other actions and rituals being carried out throughout the rest of the country by other sectors of the indigenous and popular movement in Colombia.

These actions of protest and resistance have been accompanied by yet another wave of violence directed against indigenous activists and civilians in the communities of northern Cauca. In the last 24 hours, two indigenous men have been assassinated by the forces of terror.

Come where they may these assassin’s bullets, this war is a war against the people. The results of these actions benefit those actors who want to displace us from our territories and dislodge our community process. These calculated actions of cowardice and cruelty, by armed men with weapons directed at civilians and common people, are designed to silence us and place us in a war against our rights and our Life Plans.

Yesterday, on the first day of this Popular Mobilization, the people united in La Maria participated in inaugural acts of protocol to begin the Assembly, listening to the words of the indigenous authorities. Today, on the second day of the Minga, the work agenda includes meetings and workshops with leaders and representatives of other sectors of the popular social movement, including peasant farmers, the sugar cane workers - now on strike for almost one-month, the Afro-Colombian movement, and trade unionists.

The reaction of our enemies against our people and our struggle is not surprising. The language of terror and death lingers over this moment of mobilization and dignity. Yesterday we heard the moving words of Ligia Coicué, the companion of Nicolás Valencia Lemus, the Nasa activist assassinated on Sunday morning. We also listened to his brother, the indigenous leader Silvio Valencia.

And as we write this communiqué, still pained by the news of Lemus’ death, we confirm the assassination of another indigenous civilian, Celestino Rivera, 25, member of the resguardo of Jambaló and resident of the village of Zumbico. His corpse was found on the road between Toribío and Jambaló, in the village of Quinamayó, in northern Cauca.

His cadaver contained at least two bullet wounds in the head. Eyewitnesses said they had heard at least four rifle shots at about 9:30pm on Saturday, October 11th, within the area.

Meanwhile, the Council of Chiefs of the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca, CRIC, received a call from the office of Cauca’s governor, informing them of intelligence reports that provide evidence that the FARC’s Teófilo Forero column intended to assassinate the indigenous leader and member of the CRIC’s council of Chiefs, Feliciano Valencia. CRIC was able to record the voice of the governor, but up to this point we have not been able to confirm this report.

Since receiving a detailed email threat from a group that described itself as “Angry Peasants of Cauca,” CEC, on August 11, 2008, 5 indigenous people in Nariño, 3 in Riosucio Caldas, and now 3 in Cauca have been assassinated. The Governor of the indigenous cabildo of Canoas was saved only by the courageous act of a member of his community, who refused to provide details of his whereabouts to armed gunmen who were looking for him two weeks ago. Along with these murders, an Afro-Colombian leader in Tumaco, two peasant activists in Cauca, and Olga Luz Vergara, a woman’s rights leader from the organization Ruta Pacífica de las Mujeres in Medellín, have been assassinated since this threat was sent out.

Come from where they may, these assassins’ bullets represent a war against the people. Come from where it may, this plan of death benefits those who would have us silenced and displaced! They should leave now, those who bring war, those who use arms against the people, those who use death to feed their avarice. Leave us in peace!

We will continue to mobilize with dignity, in defense of our rights, in defense of life, against the tyranny of the regime, and their supporters.

For more information about how the mobilization is unfolding, visit:

Or contact: Tejido de Comunicación y Relaciones Externas para la Verdad y la Vida
Asociación de Cabildos Indígenas del Norte del Cauca - ACIN
Telefax: (011) 57-28 - 290958 or (011) 57-28- 293-999
Santander de Quilichao Cauca -Colombia

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