Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Walk of Our Word: Colombia Will Walk the Minga!

Translation of the Final Working Document from the Social and Community Minga in Colombia

November 21, 2008
Bogotá, Colombia

The Minga LIVES, may the MINGA LIVE! We call for a Colombia of the people without owners; all the wisdom, all the pain, all the experience, all the words, all our grandmothers and our memories guide us. We are going to live because we are forever tired of the pain, death and greed of those that continue to rob us of a life of peace.


The following document is the follow-up proposal, presented in the Plaza Simón Bolívar in Bogotá on Friday, November 21, 2008, as part of the conclusion of the march and rally that brought the Social and Popular Minga to the country’s capital. This strategic proposal of ongoing work expresses the decision of many sectors to accompany the Minga in its walk, so as to convert it into the responsibility and the commitment of everybody in Colombia. This will allow the Minga to walk openly and with liberty, emerging from the people, in order to construct the country that we urgently need.

The Word: The Challenge That We Face and That We Share

Today, November 21, 2008, the Social and Community Minga has a life of its own. But those of us who proposed it and continue to proclaim its points must share the work of raising it in its infancy, so that the Minga reaches its maturity, and begins to walk its own steps, which are the steps of each and every one of us.

With these words, we assume the simultaneous commitment, on the one hand, to protect the Minga, being a fundamental part of her, but on the other hand, to let her walk freely, so that she moves in the direction that all of us provide her. This is because she that was born here, she that wants to continue to live – that is, the Minga of the People - is much, much more than what we individually can offer her based on our own particular capacities. This is what makes us enthusiastic, but at the same time nervous. There is no simple way to carry out the Minga. This is the truth, and for us it is a tremendous challenge.

What were simply ideas, dreams and desires just a short while back are today concrete and immediate imperatives. The countless letters of solidarity, the many manifestations of support, the various interpretations of the minga, the perceived opportunities that have emerged, along with the many inherent contradictions, are now confronted by a demand for a concrete reality.

From the point of view of the Minga of the People, the hour of truth has arrived. We call on a conscientious mobilization and offer generously our capacities as a people to work to protect and promote the struggle for life and dignity in Colombia. Either we confront the established order, expose it for what it is, and resist it, or we act within that order, and thereby help consolidate it. The established social and political order will not change with the latest phase of our organizing and mobilization, which ends here today, after a long march over the past six weeks. However, this Minga of the People is meant to fundamentally change that order.

The principal challenge we face consists of us having the wisdom to share with the people the underlying sense of the Minga (that is, the five point agenda that we include here), and not sacrifice its overall purpose and fundamental objectives while we obtain some concrete gains in the process towards social transformation, towards unity and a comprehensive coordination of our peoples.

Today, from the Plaza Simón Bolívar, we proclaim and hand over the Minga to everyone in order to confront the development model that has been imposed on us by actors of greed. We take this action in order to knock down the laws that displace us from our lands, and rob us of our collective resources. We do this in order to establish resistance and solidarity as concrete mechanisms to defend us all from a state that has been hijacked, one that permanently persecutes us. We do this to make sure that the state keeps its word, one that has cost us in blood. We do this to weave a path where all of us stop being considered ‘nothing’ at the service of the very few, to convert us into creators of a society where justice, liberty and the defense of Mother Earth become realities and principles.

The Walk: The Fabric of Colombia Walking the Minga of the People

We thereby proclaim our commitment to weave for all of Colombia a cloth of unity, one for all Colombia, such that:

We call on the establishment of the CONGRESS OF THE MINGA OF THE PEOPLE, one that should be held, at the latest, on October 12, 2009.

Beginning today, we will initiate the work needed to weave unity throughout Colombia, to construct in the public conscience, and in the actions of the people, a sense of consequent solidarity with the agenda of the people. We are committed to organizing ourselves, and to carry out an ongoing debate throughout the country, in order to convert the “Program for the Country that is Necessary and Possible” into something that can be further debated and approved in the Congress of the Minga, with a concrete plan of action, what ultimately would be the result of the common efforts of weaving the dignity of the people.

The word will continue to walk, informing us all, which will allow us to reflect, make decisions and take action.

Call to Action:

1. Starting today, we will construct on the march, a public pact of social processes, people and popular organizations;

2. We propose certain parameters to guarantee that the process of the Minga remains inclusive, participatory and democratic. We call on everybody to feel a part of this open process. The minimum requirements for active participation in the Minga include the following:
a. That we commit ourselves to working tirelessly, based on the five point agenda, which were part of the Minga de los Pueblos ever since it began in September 2004. That is, to convert Colombia from a country of owners without people into a country of peoples without owners;

b. That we commit ourselves to mobilizing all the necessary resources in order to advance the Minga, and contribute to constructing proposals, build alliances and work towards supporting the process leading up to the Congress of the Minga, so that this Congress becomes a reality;

c. We assume our obligations to support the coordination of the Minga, so that it does not become only something for us – that is, it is not ours only - but that it becomes something for everybody and anybody truly committed to the process.


We call on all Colombia to:

1. Feel a part of this process, and to sign up as individuals, organizations, collectives, communities or other groups to the Social and Community Minga (for now, we offer our organizations, the ONIC, CRIC, ACIN, and the other indigenous organizations of the country, as the facilitator), such that:

a. The Minga will prepare a text, which will contain our Commitment to Act, and will make it available to all peoples, processes and social organizations in the entire country;

b. The Act will include a space that will allow participants to leave information; the collection of this necessary information will facilitate communication and coordination;

c. Organizations and groups that participate in this process will inform themselves, will reflect with one another, and will make decisions related to the long-term commitment of being a part of the Minga. Considering this, all participants will be able to sign onto the Act in the name of their respective organizations and/or groups.

d. The signed acts of commitment will be made public as an expression of recognition of your presence and participation;

e. A working group of the Minga, with representation of all participating sectors, will be charged with collecting and coordinating information during the first stages of the process, with the long-term commitment of broadening outreach in order to respond to the many specific demands of the participants in the Minga as it expands.

The coordination, in response to the Mandate of the People on the March, will be responsible for promoting the outreach effort, compile the Acts, make contact with the respective processes and/or diverse social organizations who respond to the call, and create a comprehensive map of the processes according to region and sectors. This coordination will also respond to the many challenges that might come up, always in consultation with the people based on the established criteria and with utmost transparency.

Logistical and political coordination of the Minga will continue to grow from within the process itself, according to the necessities and capacities of the participants. The Minga is basically calling on people to walk together in order to build alliances, and weave a fabric of social and popular resistance.

f. We will organize a process of planning in order to come up with a working strategy to broaden the call to action and the reach of the social fabric we are weaving.

2. With our agenda we will work with a disciplined pedagogy, with all the necessary materials and appropriate methodologies in order to reach the people and continue to weave in Minga, always looking to deepen the reach of our work and spread out to other areas. Every town, every neighborhood, every street, café, factory and home, each and every space and person will be a target of our call to action and proposal to weave in community.

a. We will create and design methodologies, content, and mechanisms of sharing, of listening and of weaving;

b. We will carry out a comprehensive process of collection of the many diverse voices of the people, in order to weave through the word of the communities;

c. The path of our march will serve as our school and our experience, so that the wisdom of the people will be converted into movement;

3. We will then synthesize the results with individual commissions focused on planning, analysis and follow-up, respecting the word of everybody because all of us will be collecting and synthesizing this information.

Mobilization and Conscience

This process requires numerous events, mobilizations, and actions of struggle and resistance that must be much more coordinated and shared amongst different sectors. This also goes for the work of constructing an agenda for debate and for practice. To weave is to walk the word. To weave is to learn to struggle in unity. To weave is to prevent the Minga from becoming exhausted, and to commit ourselves to begin the work that begins here, from now on! For this reason, in proposing this path, we respect the liberty of actions and the rhythm of our reality. The wisdom of the Minga consists of it not being a single recipe with one order, but a flexible response, a proposal that will grow depending on what we do and what may occur in the future.

Hunger, the humanitarian crisis, war and terror, the illegitimacy of the state, the struggles for our rights and liberties, the dynamics of the march of history are all a part of the Minga. We are committed to collecting all of this along the way in order to construct a country of peoples without owners. Every issue is a cause, and every cause is our cause as we march in this Minga. In order to change this reality of terror and greed, we must understand this. Our conscience will make us free to struggle. Rebellion is a right that we will exercise, without the authoritarianism of sectarianism, and without impositions.

Learning through action, this is the Minga. We must not be detoured by egoisms, nor should we drown in over-enthusiasm. Our objective is to struggle, to mobilize and to advance towards some shared goals. For now, we must join forces, resources, and capacities in order to achieve even a minimum advance in terms of convocation and action, to confront a regime and a model of which we all say “enough is enough, no more!” In our words and in our deeds, this call comes from all our struggles and pains. We work so that this demand “enough is enough” remains firm, concrete and sufficient. We will never again ask for a public audience with anybody, because we, the Minga of the People, are the country and the authority. Those who represent us must obey our demands, otherwise they should go.


For a Colombia of the people without owners, all the wisdom, all the pain, all the experience, all the words, all our grandmothers and our memories guide us. We are going to live because we are forever tired of the pain, death and greed of those that continue to rob us of a life of peace!

Santafe de Bogotá, Colombia. BAKATÁ.

Plaza de Bolívar

November 21st, 2008.

Monday, November 24, 2008

What Next for the Popular and Indigenous Minga in Colombia?

Indigenous Leaders Rap Up Six Weeks of Mobilization and Pledge to Continue Their Resistance Campaign in Their Territories

By Mario A. Murillo

November 24, 2008 (Bogotá, Colombia)

There was a bit of nostalgia running through the voice of Aida Quilqué this morning in front of the National University.

The chief counsel of the Regional Indigenous C
ouncil of Cauca, CRIC, spoke through a megaphone, directing her comments to the students of the university, who had opened their campus, and their hearts, to the thousands of indigenous protesters who had come to Bogotá from all over the country on Thursday afternoon. After an earlier news conference held at the campus' legendary Ché Guevara Plaza, Quilcué and the other remaining representatives of the Minga Popular wanted to formally and publicly return the campus - off limits since last week - to the students, and thank them for their overwhelming expressions of solidarity throughout the four days of protests, meetings and cultural events that took place throughout the city.

"The Minga has constructed community in Bogotá," she said. "We came from the mountains and the valleys of Cauca, the snowcaps of the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta, the sands of La Guajira, the jungles of the Pacific and Amazonia, the peaks and the volcanoes of the Andean ranges. Step by step, the countryside animated our hearts, united the voices of our people, and reawakened the dreams of a country for everybody."

"The Minga appreciates the students of the public universities of Valle, Cundinamarca and of the National University, and their decision to open their doors and provide the conditions for more than 30,000 people who camped out here for various days on campus," she said. "We call on you to continue in Minga for the defense of the autonomy of public universities throughout Colombia."

From there, Quilcué and the dozens of other activists who were putting the finishing touches on this six-week protest action, made their way a few blocks west up the Avenida El Dorado for one last symbolic act in front of the sprawling and heavily fortified compound of the United States Embassy. While their five-point agenda has been directed at the government of President Alvaro Uribe, the communities wanted to make their demands clear to the power centers up north, where many of the security and development policies implemented in Colombia are shaped and financed. Luís Evelis Andrade, president of the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia, ONIC, pointed out at the news conference that their continuous organizing work will be carried out in the base communities throughout Colombia, but will also be directed towards Washington, especially now during the presidential transition process.

Leaders Proclaim Minga a Success
Now that the hundreds of tents have been packed up, the communal fires have been extinguished, and the colorful "Chivas" packed with people from all over the country have finally left Bogotá, many questions remain as to what impact the Minga has had on the popular movement, and whether or not the optimism and the energy expressed by the tens of thousands of participants will translate into short and long term gains, not only for the indigenous communities, but for other sectors of Colombian society.

Since the mobilization began on October 11, in the indigenous resguardo of La Maria, Piendamó, in Cauca, there have been some victories, but also some setbacks. On Saturday, the high-profile meeting between the indigenous leadership and several government ministers resulted in absolutely no progress on any of the issues discussed, making it appear, at least in certain media accounts, that the movement had wasted its time in coming all the way to Bogotá and in the end having nothing to show for it.

At the same time, no one in the movement was surprised by the instransigence expressed by the government at the meeting, and the fact that President Uribe was a no-show, despite having met with the communities several weeks back in a public debate in Cauca. Uribe was in Peru, busily signing free trade agreements with China and Canada at the APEC summit, while proclaiming proudly that the country was open for business for the entire world, a deliberate snub at both the indigenous movement's persistent opposition to such free trade deals, and the Democrats in the U.S. Congress who have held up the US-Colombia FTA now for almost two years. For the indigenous leadership, these meetings with the government were not the primary reason for continuing their march all the way to Bogotá. Their objective was to open up a dialogue with the people of Colombia, and establish the essential foundations for a broad-based, grassroots opposition to the current regime.

In an intense internal political planning meeting held National University campus on Sunday, there was considerable debate within the indigenous movement over whether to continue the minga with ongoing mobilizations and protests in the coming days, or to pack up their bags and begin the long trek home back to their respective regions. There was some concern that leaving Bogotá at this point would be seen by the establishment as a defeat for the movement. Others said the objective had been achieved, and that after six weeks of unprecedented logistical organizing - 40,000 people at its peak when it reached Cali in late October - and considerable sacrifice on the part of the mingueros - many of whom had been separated from the their families throughout this period, living in makeshift tents, and marching hundreds of miles under precarious conditions - it was time to begin the trip home with their collective heads held high.

Despite strong differences of opinion expressed by the many regions represented in the meeting about what needed to be done right away, that is today, there was widespread consensus that the Minga had been a success, and the call for structural change coming from many sectors could not be stopped, and must indeed be accelerated in the coming weeks and months. It was therefore decided that Monday was to be the last day of the current stage of the minga, but that it would continue on several fronts in the next several months. The minga had indeed taken on a life of its own after weeks of pain and sacrifice.

"One state-sponsored assassination, 150 wounded, 30,000 people walking the word for 45 days, working meetings between different sectors, the initiation of a debate between civil society and President Uribe in La Maria, Piendamó, and eleven hours of meetings with ministers of the government here in Bogotá (on Saturday) have not been enough for the power structures of Colombia to adjust their policies vis a vis the Constitutional mandates and the international conventions...meant to guarantee our human rights," read the final communique of the Minga.

"The Minga once again confirms that this government is not with the people, that its economic policies favor multinational capital at the expense of the people, that it does not respect the fundamentals of the Constitution, that it accuses anyone who demands their rights of being a terrorist, and that it uses the tools of the mass communication media to silence the popular will, and distract public opinion with lies and threats," declared the ONIC's Andrade, reading from the final proclamation.

Next on the Agenda

While most of the people have already left, there is still a lot planned over the next several days here in Bogotá. A political commission has been established and charged with the task of continuing to meet with officials about some of their demands, particularly related to the fulfillment of previous commitments made by past governments relating to the return of land to indigenous communities victimized by state-sponsored terror. There is also expected to be a debate about some of these issues in the Colombian Senate this week, where representatives of the Minga will talk directly to lawmakers about their agenda. How effective either of these sessions will be is anybody's guess, and there is considerable room for skepticism.

Alongside this "official" approach, there are ongoing planning sessions aimed at consolidating the various cross-sector alliances that seem to have emerged from the six weeks of mobilizing. This is tied to the strategy of expanding the reach of the minga so as to involve communities that up to now have not been directly engaged in the process, particularly in poor urban areas.

Throughout this long organizing process, there was serious concern that the Minga would eventually decay into a solely "indigenist" agenda that would shut out other very important sectors of the popular movement, such as peasants farmers, trade unions, students, and Colombians of African descent. The call for change is coming from many corners of the country, both indigenous and non-indigenous. There is no doubt that, despite their small numbers with respect to the rest of the population, the indigenous movement spearheaded the minga from the outset, their vision serving as an inspiration for the rest of the country. And the media have consistently presented it as such throughout the weeks of mobilizing, notwithstanding the presence of striking sugar cane workers, women's groups and other sectors at every step along the way. Today, the indigenous leadership is very clear that they cannot win this long-term fight on their own.

The public statements made by the head of the Central Worker's Union and the Teachers Union at Friday's rally in Simon Bolivar Plaza was a very positive advance. The spirited activism and organizing in the student movement is also evidence that something is brewing that for years had been dormant in the Colombian progressive movement. Nevertheless, a number of black and peasant activists, as well as a representative of the displaced communities (there are close to 4-million internally displaced people in Colombia) present in Sunday's planning meeting, expressed concern that they must not be left out of any future coalition. They were somewhat critical that more of their voices were not heard, for example, at Friday's mass rally. The leadership of the Minga has its work cut out for them to continue reaching out in a spirit of inclusion and alliance-building.

Finally, there is also a strong call to move the minga up north, to carry out the barridos, or sweeps, in places like Washington, New York and Chicago, to draw attention of the incoming administration and the public in general to the crisis facing so much of the Colombian population, despite the powerful propaganda machine of the Uribe government that has the eyes and ears of the U.S. political establishment, and its friends in the press. Already, the NY Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Dallas Morning News are calling on Congress to approve the FTA. These editorial writers need to hear form the Mingueros! A comprehensive diplomatic strategy has to be mapped out almost immediately.

In the next few days, I will post a chronological recap of this historic process, and tie it to the faulty media coverage here in Colombia of some of the major moments in the minga. I will do this in tribute to the alternative media of the indigenous movement, and in particular the courageous folks that make up ACIN's Tejido de Comunicación, who have worked tirelessly for weeks on end trying to keep the world informed about what was really happening on the resguardos and on the road ways, in the meetings and the protests. I have had the pleasure and the privilege of working alongside them during much of this process, since early August, learning great lessons about what it really means to do cutting edge, grassroots, community-oriented media.

In their work, each and every one of them personify the concept of "walking the word" that has been the underlying banner carried by al the mingueros from day one.

Please stay tuned!

El Camino de nuestra Palabra: Colombia Caminará La Minga!

Autor: Minga Social y Comunitaria

La Minga VIVE, QUE VIVA LA MINGA!. Por una Colombia de los pueblos sin dueños, todo el saber, todo el dolor, toda la experiencia, todas las palabras, todas las abuelas y los recuerdos. Vamos a vivir porque nos cansamos para siempre del dolor, de la muerte y de la codicia de quienes se nos roban la paz.


La siguiente es la propuesta de seguimiento presentada en la Plaza de Bolívar de Bogotá el viernes 21 de Noviembre, como clausura de la Marcha que llevara a la Minga de los Pueblos hasta Bogotá. Esta propuesta de seguimiento expresa la decisión de acompañar la Minga Social y Comunitaria en el camino de convertirse en compromiso y responsabilidad de todas y todos en Colombia, para que La Minga camine con libertad desde los pueblos por el país posible que necesitamos construir.

La Palabra: el Desafío que Enfrentamos y Compartimos

Hoy, 21 de Noviembre de 2008, la Minga Social y Comunitaria, tiene vida propia, pero quienes la propusimos y la proclamamos tenemos que compartir el trabajo de su crianza para que llegue a su edad madura y camine sus propios pasos que son de todas y todos.

Asumimos con estas palabras el compromiso doble y simultáneo de proteger la Minga siendo parte de ella, pero también el de dejarla en Libertad para que camine en la dirección que le demos nosotras y nosotros, porque lo que ya exige ese ser que nació y que quiere vivir, esa Minga de los Pueblos, es mucho, pero mucho más de lo que podemos ofrecerle desde nuestras capacidades particulares. Nos desborda y es eso lo que nos entusiasma y nos preocupa. No hay costumbre de Minga. Esa es una verdad y un desafío.

Lo que eran ideas, sueños y ganas hasta hace poco. Hoy son imperativos concretos e inmediatos. Las cartas de solidaridad, las manifestaciones de apoyo, los entusiasmos diversos, las interpretaciones variadas, las oportunidades percibidas, las contradicciones inherentes y mucho más, enfrentan la exigencia de la realidad concreta.

Desde la Minga de los Pueblos, es una hora de la verdad. Convocamos la movilización conciente y el aporte generoso de nuestras capacidades y trabajo para proteger y promover la lucha por la vida y la dignidad en Colombia. O confrontamos un orden establecido para ponerlo en evidencia y resistirlo, o actuamos dentro del mismo y ayudamos a consolidarlo. No cambiará el orden con esta movilización que hoy culmina una etapa en un largo camino, pero esta Minga de los Pueblos si es para cambiarlo.

El desafío consiste en tener la sabiduría que nos permita compartir el sentido (vínculo a agenda de 5 puntos) y no sacrificarlo mientras obtenemos logros concretos en el proceso hacia su transformación y hacia la unidad y coordinación entre los pueblos.

Hoy, desde la Plaza de Bolívar en Bogotá, proclamamos y entregamos la Minga de todas y de todos para confrontar el Modelo de desarrollo que nos impone la codicia, para derrumbar leyes que nos despojan y nos roban, para establecer la resistencia y la solidaridad como mecanismo concreto para defendernos de un Estado secuestrado que nos persigue, para hacer cumplir la palabra que ha costado sangre, para tejer un camino en que todas y todos dejamos de ser nadie al servicio de esos pocos para convertirnos en gestores de sociedades donde la justicia, la libertad y la defensa de la Madre Tierra sean realidades y principios.


Proclamamos ahora nuestro compromiso de tejer por toda Colombia una jigra de unidad. El de todas y todos en Colombia así:

Convocamos el CONGRESO DE LA MINGA DE LOS PUEBLOS, para que lo realicemos a más tardar EL 12 DE OCTUBRE DE 2009.

A partir de hoy, iniciaremos el trabajo de tejer por toda Colombia para Construir en las conciencias y en la acción consecuente y solidaria, la agenda de los pueblos y organizarnos para debatirla y convertirla en el Programa para el país posible y necesario que sea debatido y aprobado en el congreso de la Minga con un Plan de Acción, resultado del esfuerzo de tejer la dignidad.

La palabra se camina informándonos, para reflexionar, decidir y actuar.


1. A partir de hoy vamos a construir en la marcha, un pacto de procesos, pueblos y organizaciones populares.
2. Proponemos requisitos para garantizar que el proceso de la Minga sea incluyente, participativo y democrático. Llamamos a todas y a todos a sentirnos convocadas y convocados. Los requisitos mínimos que acordamos incluyen:
a. Asumimos trabajar a partir de los 5 puntos de la agenda de la Minga de los Pueblos que venimos caminando desde Septiembre de 2004. De un país con dueños y sin pueblos, por un país de los pueblos y sin dueños.
b. Nos comprometemos a movilizar los recursos que se requieran para que la Minga avance y contribuir a construir propuestas, tejer y movilizarnos aportando para que el proceso hacia el Congreso de la Minga de los Pueblos y el Congreso mismo sean una realidad.
c. Asumimos nuestro deber de aportar a la coordinación en Minga de los Pueblos para que nada sea de nosotros y todo sea de todas y todos.


Convocamos a toda Colombia a:

1. Sentirnos convocadas y convocados y a inscribirnos como personas, organizaciones, colectivos, comunidades o grupos a la Minga Social y Comunitaria (por ahora ofrecemos la ONIC, el CRIC, la ACIN y las organizaciones indígenas del país) así:
a. La Minga preparará un texto de Acta de Compromiso y lo pondrá en disposición de los pueblos, procesos y organizaciones sociales en todo el país
b. El Acta incluirá además un espacio para recolectar información y datos necesarios para la interlocución y coordinación
c. Las organizaciones y grupos, se informan, reflexionan y toman la decisión comprometida de asumir el compromiso de hacer Minga. En consecuencia, firman el Acta a nombre de sus grupos o colectivos.
d. Las actas de compromiso firmadas, se harán públicas como expresión de reconocimiento y presencia.
e. Un equipo de la Minga con representación de diversos sectores se ocupa inicialmente de tejer en las primeras etapas con el compromiso de irse ampliando para responder a las demandas del tejido y del camino. La coordinación en respuesta al mandato de los pueblos en marcha se encargará de promover la convocatoria, recoger las actas, contactar los diversos procesos y sectores sociales, mapear los procesos por regiones, sectores y responder a los demás desafíos que se presenten, siempre en consulta con los pueblos y sobre la base de criterios establecidos con transparencia. La coordinación logística y política irá creciendo desde el proceso mismo según necesidades y capacidades. La Minga manda en el camino para que nos hagamos Tejido.
f. Se organiza un proceso de planeación y un plan de trabajo para ampliar la convocatoria y una
propuesta de coordinación para la fase de tejido.

2. Con la agenda trabajaremos un proceso pedagógico y los materiales y métodos necesarios para Tejer donde se requiera y se pueda, buscando ensanchar y profundizar los alcances y ámbitos. Cada barrio, vereda, pueblo, calle, café, fábrica y hogar, cada espacio y cada persona serán objeto de nuestra convocatoria a tejer.
a. Crearemos y diseñaremos metodologías, contenidos, mecanismos de compartir, escuchar y tejer.
b. Realizaremos el proceso de tejido y recolección de la palabra de los pueblos
c. El camino nos servirá como escuela y experiencia para que la sabiduría colectiva se convierta en rumbo.
3. Sintetizaremos los resultados con comisiones de planeación, síntesis y seguimiento respetando la palabra de todas y todos porque todas y todos estaremos recogiendo y sintetizando.

Movilización y Conciencia

El proceso de tejer reclama eventos, movilizaciones, acciones de lucha y resistencia cada vez más coordinadas y compartidas y el trabajo de construir agenda en el debate y en la práctica. Tejer es caminar la palabra. Tejer es aprender a luchar en unidad. Tejer es impedir que esta Minga se canse y comprometernos a que siga desde acá y desde ya! Por eso, al proponer este camino recogemos con respeto la libertad de acción y los ritmos de la realidad. La sabiduría de la Minga consiste en no ser receta ni orden sino respuesta flexible y propuesta que crece con lo que sucederá y haremos. El hambre, la crisis humanitaria, la guerra y el terror, la ilegitimidad del Estado, las luchas por derechos y libertades, las dinámicas del camino de lo que hace la historia caben en la Minga, son Minga y nos comprometemos a recogerlos en el camino hacia establecer el país sin dueños de los pueblos. Cada tema es una causa y todas las causas son nuestras en el camino de tejer en Minga. Para cambiar esta realidad de terror y codicia, debemos entenderla. La conciencia nos hará libres para luchar. La rebeldía es un derecho que vamos a ejercer sin autoritarismos sectarios ni imposiciones.

Aprender haciendo. Esa es la Minga. Ni desviarnos por egoísmos, ni ahogarnos en entusiasmos. Luchar, movilizarnos, avanzar hacia unos logros compartidos. Por ahora, hay que sumar fuerzas, recursos y capacidades para lograr unos mínimos de convocatoria y acción frente a un régimen y a un modelo al que le decimos BASTA! en las palabras y en los hechos desde todas las luchas y dolores. Que ese BASTA! sea firme, concreto y suficiente. No volveremos a pedirle audiencia a nadie, porque nosotras y nosotros, la Minga de los Pueblos, somos el país y la autoridad. Los que nos representan nos mandan obedeciendo, o se van.

La Minga VIVE, QUE VIVA LA MINGA!. Por una Colombia de los pueblos sin dueños, todo el saber, todo el dolor, toda la experiencia, todas las palabras, todas las abuelas y los recuerdos. Vamos a vivir porque nos cansamos para siempre del dolor, de la muerte y de la codicia de quienes se nos roban la paz.

Santafe de Bogotá. BAKATÁ.
Plaza de Bolívar
Noviembre 21 de 2008.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Word of the MINGA Took Over the Plaza d Bolivar in Bogotá

The Indigenous and Popular Minga Has Taken Over Colombia's Capital

(Bogotá, Colombia)

It's been a busy series of days here in Bogotá as the MINGA Popular continues to expand and flourish. From the streets in the center of the city, to the Plaza del Ché at the National University where an international forum was held on Saturday, from the media centers of the indigenous movement to the dozens of meetings taking place around the city where "Mingueros" are discussing the five point agenda with all the sectors that are interested to listen, the enthusiasm and energy of the popular movement can be felt.

After Friday's massive march through Bogotá that started at the campus of the National University, one that brought together over 20,000 people into the Plaza Bolivar for a spirited rally under a consistent rain, Saturday was a day focused more on concrete work that needs to be carried out to continue the organizing of the people. The highest profile meeting was held at la SENA, where government ministers and the indigenous leadership met for several hours in a tense session to discuss the government's failure to fulfill its obligations to the communities under previous accords, and the ongoing violence being carried out by the state security forces against indigenous people.

Simultaneous to that high-level encounter, representatives of the many different regional organizations participating in the MINGA got together in commissions, and scattered around throughout the city, meeting with student groups, local community councils, rank and file workers, and many other sectors to promote the message of the Minga. These are what the community refers to as "barridos," or "sweeps," designed to open up the dialogue with the people even further, and begin an ongoing discussion based on the conclusion of Friday's historic rally.

At the rally, Feliciano Valencia, a member of the council of chiefs of the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca, CRIC, reminded the crowd that "the Minga is a long-term process that does not conclude with a rally where we hear some strong speeches and then go home."

He emphasized the need to continue to build on the momentum started on October 11th, in La Maria, Piendamó, in Cauca, where the Minga began over five weeks ago. In essence, Valencia and other speakers were talking about the construction of a broad-based popular movement in opposition to the neoliberal, militarist model that is represented faithfully by the current regime. They are very well aware that the work will not be easy, given the many different sectors they are calling together and the diverging interests that they could come to represent. However, what is clear from the events of the last several weeks, and in particular the unity expressed this weekend here in the nation's capital, is that there is a commitment to joint mobilization, as well as to continue working together for the long-term.

One of the highlights of Friday's rally was the public pact made between the leadership of the Central Workers Union, CUT and the indigenous movement to work together from now on in coalition to confront the government of President Alvaro Uribe. Tarsicio Mora Godoy, the President of CUT, made a rousing speech and shook the hand of Feliciano Valencia, committing the resources and the sweat equity of the rank and file to join forces in the Minga in its struggle for social transformation.

"The CUT will march together with you so that all the violent actions against the civilian population cease and so that the state guarantees the respect for the human rights of the people and that impunity is broken. So that they guarantee all the victims of this violence the right to the truth, justice, reparation and that it will not happen again," he said.

"We cannot continue fighting our struggles alone," he emphasized.

This point was reiterated by Ezequiel Vitonás, a Nasa leader from Toribio, and chief council of the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca, ACIN, who summarized the work agenda towards the end of the rally.

"The minga does not end here, the minga continues with its call, waking up the conscience of the people and uniting forces, sharing pains, walking the word without looking at borders nor limits. Because the hope for life transcends these physical spaces, and each and every one of us is responsible for taking care of and watching grow this little child that today is being born," he said.

There have been a number of other big stories making headlines in Colombia the last several days, pushing the coverage of the Minga to a second, third and even fourth tier in terms of the commercial news agenda. The ongoing crisis caused by the financial schemes known as "Pyramids" continues to generate the most attention, followed since Friday morning by the natural disaster unfolding as a result of the eruption of the Nevado del Huila volcano. Latest reports say that at least ten people were killed and another 150 remain trapped as of Sunday morning as a result of the avalanche and mudslide caused by the melting of the snow after the eruption. The departments affected by the eruption include Huila, Tolima and Cauca, in particular the indigenous territory of Tierradentro.

Yet despite the limited commercial media coverage of the important events related to the protests and meetings this weekend, it is quite apparent that the Minga has developed a life of its own, and is not dependent anymore on getting the attention of these corporate information channels. The representation of the Minga on the major news channels has been problematic from the start. The evidence is clear: The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia, ONIC, has been documenting every news piece that has come out on just about every media outlet since October 11th, so anybody interested can check for themselves. The public, unfortunately, remains extremely uninformed about the historic developments that are unfolding before them.

Today, there are many alternatives! The massive presence of independent media at all these events - video cameras documenting the marches and rallies, photographers clicking away at the dramatic militance of the protesters, community radio producers gathering natural sound, speeches, and interviews for their respective outlets - are presenting a comprehensive alternative narrative - the people's narrative - that undoubtedly is having an impact on how the Minga is playing out with public opinion. It has resulted in tremendous solidarity from abroad, and unprecedented collaboration and participation from ordinary people here in Colombia since the Minga began.

Despite the false accusations of the government, despite the racist underpinnings of the media coverage, and the almost deliberate mis-information that has accompanied it, the people have come out in small towns and large cities to welcome the mingueros, and join with them in solidarity. No doubt there is still profound opposition to the Minga from a certain, very powerful and intolerant sector of Colombian society. I am not naive to think that the indigenous movement has reached everybody with equal amounts of empathy and solidarity. If you read the comments section on the websites of El Tiempo and El Espectador, for example, the vitriolic hate speech comes across loud and clear. But undoubtedly there is widespread support from a broad cross section of the Colombian population who have simply had enough of the Uribe propaganda machine.

For me, one of the most impressive images of Friday's march was seeing dozens of men and women in business suits, the heart of Colombia's business class on their lunch breaks, lining the famous Avenida Septima in downtown Bogotá, applauding enthusiastically and raising their fists in the air as the thousands of protesters marched by. One elegant man shouted out "No more lies of this tyrannical President! Que viva la Minga!" It was wonderful.

The next steps are still being hammered out by the leadership and the base. One clear target date is October 12, 2009, where the movement will hold a national people's congress to move the Minga forward. But there is a lot to do in the coming days and weeks.

On Sunday, more events are planned throughout the city. There might even be another debate with the President, although this has yet to be hammered out.

We will keep you posted.

To hear some of the sounds of Friday's rally, check out the ACIN's website and scroll down a bit to the audio links. There you will hear the voices of Valencia, Vitonás and Mora, as well as the many other speakers at the Plaza Simón Bolivar.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Faces of the Indigenous Guard in the Minga in Bogotá

Indigenous and Popular Minga in Bogotá Brings Together Tens of Thousands of People

Some Images from today's MINGA in Bogotá!!!

A pretty clear message to the President-elect of the United States posted by some of the over 20,000 people participating in Friday's historic mobilization in Bogotá, the latest stage of the Indigenous and Popular Minga that was launched on October 12th in La Maria, Piendamó.

Feliciano Valencia, member of the council of chiefs of the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca, CRIC, and one of the Minga's most eloquent public spokespersons, reminding the masses of people gathered that the MINGA is really just beginning, and there's a long way to go before "we see truly fundamental change in Colombia." After Friday's unprecedented gathering of different social sectors, and the public agreement made between the Indigenous movement and the trade union movement to form a united front against the current government, it was announced that for the next several months, the MINGA would continue to build on the momentum of the last several weeks. It will culminate with a National Congress of the People, expected to take place on October 12, 2009.

Aida Quilcué, Chief Council of the CRIC, addressing the throngs of people gathered in the Plaza Simón Bolivar on Friday. She openly criticized the government of Alvaro Uribe for using the volcanic eruption of the Nevado de Huila as a political tool to show up the Minga. The volcanic activity which began late Thursday night, affected a vast area in Cauca, Huila and Tolima, including the indigenous region of Tierradentro, where Aida is from. Hundreds of families were forced to evacuate the territory, and there were some reports of up to ten deaths as a result of the eruption.
The marchers left the National University at about 10:30am to start the march to the downtown area, after arriving in Bogotá on Thursday afternoon, ten days after beginning their long march from Cali, in southern Colombia. They camped out in tents throughout the sprawling campus of the largest public university in the country, where they were allowed to stay despite earlier opposition expressed by the University's rector. The marchers were greeted along the way favorably by the thousands of people lining the streets, as they moved from the campus, onto the Avenue of El Dorado, heading east towards 7th Avenue, and then downtown towards the Plaza Bolivar, just outside the National Palace. Even drivers in cars, totally inconvenienced by immense traffic jams caused by the marchers, expressed their support, with many honking their horns and raising their fists in the air. The Minga had arrived in the capital, and most Bogotanos seemed to welcome their presence!

The people were a wonderful sight for the eyes, with delegations from every regional indigenous organization of the country present, as well as representatives from many other social sectors, including the unions, women's organizations, student groups, and just ordinary folks who were jumping into the march to join the Minga in its call for social justice and political transformation.

I'll have much more about the Minga in the next few days, as we continue to absorb and evaluate the events of today's dramatic march and rally!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Amnesty and HRW ask Uribe to stop falsely accuse human rights groups

From Colombia Reports news site

Human rights organizations Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch want Colombian President Álvaro Uribe to "stop making false and dangerous accusations against human rights groups that criticize his government."

The two organizations are bitter about Uribe's reaction after the publication of their reports about Colombia. Uribe had accused Amnesty International of "blindness" and "fanaticism" and accused HRW Americas director José Miguel Vivanco of being a supporter of the FARC.

“We would welcome a chance to debate the real issues with the president. But these statements belittle his office and give a green light to those who wish to harm human rights activists in Colombia,” Susan Lee, Americas director for Amnesty International said Wednesday.

“These ridiculous accusations are symptomatic of an administration that refuses to be held accountable for what it does,” said José Miguel Vivanco of Human Rights Watch. “Instead of taking the country’s human rights problems seriously, the Uribe government has sought to deflect criticism by simply accusing the critics – no matter who they are – of links to guerrillas.”

Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch say they are still waiting for the Colombian government to provide measured and detailed responses to the serious human rights concerns raised in their two reports.

Minga Popular Arrives in Bogotá Later Today

The Indigenous and Popular Mobilization that left Cali on November 10th but actually began in La Maria, Piendamó on October 11th, will be making its final push to Bogotá this morning, and is expected to arrive from Soacha at about 1:00pm local time.

They will converge on the campus of the National University, despite the authorities' earlier rejection of their presence. It looks like the incredible solidarity that the MINGA has received from all over Colombia and around the world had an impact on forcing the University to change its mind and permit the 10,000-plus participants to stay on campus for the next several days.

On Friday, they begin a march from the National University to downtown Bogotá, where they will be converging for a massive rally in the Plaza Simón Bolivar. They are expecting to have another debate with the government about the Minga's five-point agenda, although by the looks of things, it appears that the mobilization's impact has already served its purpose: the launching of a popular movement that will resist the "security" and economic development plans of the current administration.

Over the last several days, representatives of the various organizations behind the Minga have been meeting with student groups, political organizations, trade union activists, and other sectors, trying to engage in a dialogue about the future course of the Minga. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done.

Below I share with you an important essay, in Spanish, written by the Tejido de Comunicación of ACIN and the people at Actualidad Étnica. There will be more to come in the next several days.

La Minga continúa a pesar de la represión contra quiénes se siguen sumando


Autor: Actualidad Étnica y Tejido de Comunicación ACIN

“Nosotros salimos a volantiar con el comunicado de la propuesta de la Minga al Transmilenio, cuando recorrimos dos estaciones en la Estación de Ricaute, nos tenían montado todo un operativo con 20 policías y nosotros sólo éramos 5 personas. Nos bajaron del bus, fueron muy agresivos y nos amenazaron con llevarnos. Mientras llegaba la patrulla llamamos a Derechos Humanos y llegaron algunas personas de Nomadesc y Cristianos por la Paz, quiénes exigieron levantar un acta de lo sucedido con los detenidos informando que falta habíamos cometido”, aseguró uno de los estudiantes.

Para leerlo todo: http://www.nasaacin.org/noticias.htm?x=9206

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Human Rights Contradictions Evident With Obama’s Attorney General Pick

Holder’s Links to Chiquita Brands International Not a Good Sign for Justice For the Victims of Paramilitary Terror
By Mario A. Murillo

(Bogotá, Colombia)

First the good news: We’re two months away from President George W. Bush’s last full day in the White House. The countdown for the end of the nightmare has begun in earnest.

Now the bad news: As Barack Obama puts together his cabinet and eyes a slew of former Clinton officials for key staff positions, it is becoming ever more apparent that all those calls for change coming from progressive circles in the U.S. – and abroad - have fallen on deaf ears.

Most striking, at least for the time being, is the soon to be named position of the top law enforcement official of the country. It looks like the first African-American President will appoint the first African-American attorney general in the coming days, something that on the surface looks like an advance, but should actually sound alarm bells for anybody seeking true change in the way things are done in Washington, especially when it comes to bringing corporate criminals to justice.

Although no final decision has been made, the New York Times reports that the President-elect’s transition team has signaled to Eric H. Holder Jr., a senior Clinton Justice Department official, that he will be selected as the next attorney general. Holder helped lead the team that selected Sen. Joe Biden as Obama's VP choice.

Most news accounts about the pending appointment seem to be limiting their criticism of Holder to one of his final acts as President Bill Clinton's deputy attorney general in 2001. At the time, on the last day of Clinton's term, Holder apparently said he was "neutral, leaning toward favorable" for a presidential pardon for Marc Rich, the wealthy commodities dealer whose ex-wife, Denise, was a major donor to the Democratic Party. Clinton’s pardon of the tax-evading Rich was criticized as politically motivated, leading to a congressional investigation over the matter.

What is not being discussed too much, and was not even mentioned in today’s New York Times report, is Holder’s key role in defending Chiquita Brands International in a notorious case relating to the company’s funneling money and weapons to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, AUC, the right-wing paramilitary organization on the U.S. State Department’s own list of terrorist organizations.

In 2003, an Organization of American States report showed that Chiquita’s subsidiary in Colombia, Banadex, had helped divert weapons and ammunition, including thousands of AK-47s, from Nicaraguan government stocks to the AUC. The AUC – very often in collaboration with units of the U.S.-trained Armed Forces - is responsible for hundreds of massacres of primarily peasants throughout the Colombian countryside, including in the banana-growing region of Urabá, where it is believed that at least 4,000 people were killed. Their systematic use of violence resulted in the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of poor Colombians, a disproportionate amount of those people being black or indigenous.

In 2004, Holder helped negotiate an agreement with the Justice Department for Chiquita that involved the fruit company’s payment of “protection money” to the AUC, in direct violation of U.S. laws prohibiting this kind of transaction. In the agreement brokered by Holder, Chiquita officials pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a fine of $25 million, to be paid over a 5-year period. However, not one Chiquita official involved in the illegal transactions was forced to serve time for a crime that others have paid dearly for, mainly because they did not have the kind of legal backing that Holder’s team provided. Holder continues to represent Chiquita in the civil action, which grew out of this criminal case.

One of the arguments in defense of Chiquita’s criminal acts was that the company was being strong-armed by thugs in Colombia, and that it either had to make the payments, or close up shop in the country, which would have resulted in the loss of tens of millions of dollars in profits. Chiquita officials even disclosed to the Justice Department that they were making the illegal payments to the AUC, to see what could be done.

As the Washington Post reported back in 2007, Federal prosecutors had said in court papers that Justice Department officials made clear in April 2003 that Chiquita was clearly violating the law and that "the payments . . . could not continue."1 The Post reported “lawyers at Justice headquarters and the U.S. attorney's office in Washington were incensed by what they considered the flagrant continuation of these payoffs, despite the warnings.” At the time, Holder said he was concerned that company leaders who disclosed the corporation's illegal activity to prosecutors were facing the possibility of prosecution.

"If what you want to encourage is voluntary self-disclosure, what message does this send to other companies?" asked Holder, deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration. "Here's a company that voluntarily self-discloses in a national security context, where the company gets treated pretty harshly, [and] then on top of that, you go after individuals who made a really painful decision."2

So in Holder’s view, we should feel sympathy for these poor corporate executives, whose identities were kept confidential, and who were forced to make “very painful decisions” about opening up to their own criminality. Never mind that this company was complicit in the above-mentioned human tragedy waged by the AUC. The many victims of this paramilitary terror did not even cross the mind of the well-connected defense attorney now being considered for the Attorney General job.

Yet the opposition to Holder’s nomination to the top position at Justice should not stop with this sordid history, one that perhaps can be excused as the obligation of a lawyer to defend his or her client regardless of the alleged crime. The disappointment in Obama’s pick for AG should stem from the President-elect’s strong words during the campaign in defense of human rights, particularly for those of workers in Colombia. On several occasions, including in the last presidential debate held at Hofstra University just three weeks before the election, the Democratic Candidate said he opposed the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement precisely on the grounds of the human rights violations carried out consistently against trade unionists in Colombia, and the ongoing impunity that has followed in most of those crimes.

This is directly connected to the Holder nomination because currently, there is a lawsuit underway from the families of 173 banana workers, who were killed by one of these paramilitary groups in Colombia. These family members do not buy into the argument, made by people like Holder and his Chiquita clients, that the company was forced to make these illegal payments to the AUC. Their claim is that Chiquita Brands International deliberately hired these armed thugs specifically to repress the rights of these workers, a tool used by other major multinationals operating in Colombian hot spots, including Coca Cola, BP, and the Drummond Corporation.

As Dan Kovalik recently wrote in the Huffington Post, the major concern that emerges with a Justice Department led by Holder is that none of these allegations will ever be fully investigated. Kovalik points to the Human Rights Watch report entitled, "Breaking the Grip? Obstacles to Justice for Paramilitary Mafias in Colombia," where the organization recommends that,

“in order to assist with the process of ending the ties between the Colombian government and paramilitary death squads, the U.S. Department of Justice should, among other things, "[c]reate meaningful legal incentives for paramilitary leaders [a number of whom have already been extradited to the U.S.] to fully disclose information about atrocities and name all Colombian or foreign officials, business or individuals who may have facilitated their criminal activities," and "[c]ollaborate actively with the efforts of Colombian justice officials who are investigating paramilitary networks in Colombia by sharing relevant information possible and granting them access to paramilitary leaders in U.S. custody."3

Will this recommendation be carried out by a Justice Department led by the man who defended one of the most visible protagonists in these crimes? If the Obama Administration is seriously concerned about impunity and human rights in Colombia, Holder should probably step out of the way immediately.

Furthermore, and as Kovalik pointed out in his Huffington Post commentary, one of the most notorious paramilitary leaders currently in U.S. federal custody, Salvatore Mancuso, claims that he has extensive knowledge, not only about Chiquita's relationship with paramilitary death squads in Colombia, but with other major firms such as Dole and Del Monte. None of these firms are even on the radar screen of the Justice Department, and the question is whether or not they will be should Holder be appointed the next Attorney General. My assumption is that it is not a priority for Obama, certainly not for Holder.

The calls for change in Washington’s relationship with Latin America are coming from both within the United States and throughout the continent. There was no doubt that here in Colombia, people were relieved to hear of Barack Obama’s historic victory on November 4th. Given his public denunciations of the murders of hundreds of union leaders in Colombia, and his interesting life story which points to at least somewhat of a distinct international perspective, it was not surprising to hear car horns go off in the streets of some towns when he was declared the winner on election night.

But it now seems like business as usual in Washington, where corporate criminality is not a major priority, and justice is only an empty promise made on the backs of the victims of these crimes, directed mainly at gullible voters before elections.

We cannot let this happen.

1 The Washington Post, “In Terrorism-Law Case, Chiquita Points to U.S.,” by Carol D. Leonnig, Thursday, August 2, 2007; Page A01.

2 Ibid.

3 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-kovalik/lawyer-for-chiquita-in-co_b_141919.html

Mario A. Murillo is associate professor of Communication at Hofstra University in New York and author of Colombia and the United states: War, Unrest and Destabilization. He is currently living in Colombia working on a book about the indigenous movement and its uses of communications media.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Amenazas contra los estudiantes de la Universidad Nacional

Desde el próximo 18 de noviembre los paramilitares declararon la prohibición de ingresar a la Universidad a estudiantes que conciben ellos como "subversivos".

Bogotá, D.C 15 de noviembre de 2008



1. El 15 de Diciembre de 2006, la Defensoría del Pueblo por medio de su Sistema de Alertas Tempranas (SAT) expidió un informe de Riesgo para las Universidades Públicas de Bogotá, en la cual resaltaba que las comunidades universitarias de esta Universidades se encontraban en un nivel de riesgo alto por las acciones de grupos al margen de la Ley y por la criminalización de la cual ha venido siendo víctima el movimiento universitario, especialmente en los últimos cinco años por parte de miembros del Gobierno Nacional, orquestado especialmente desde los medios de comunicación.

En el contexto del Informe de Riesgo, las comunidades Universitarias se movilizaron el día 18 de Abril de 2007 hacia el Ministerio del Interior y de Justicia exigiendo que fueran cambiadas las recomendaciones realizadas por el Comité Interinstitucional de Alertas Tempranas, que en vez de ayudar a aminorar el riesgo de los grupos estudiantiles, profesorales y sindicales de la Universidad , abogaba por una infiltración de los campus universitarios.

2. En el año 2008 y debido a las situaciones de amenaza en las que se encuentran las universidades del distrito y por la constante persecución a la que se han visto enfrentados los miembros de las comunidades universitarias, la defensoría del Pueblo, por medio del Sistema de Alertas Tempranas expide el informe de seguimiento del informe de riesgo.

3. En este mismo año se han incrementado las amenazas contra miembros de la comunidad estudiantil de las universidades públicas distritales, especialmente en la Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Sede Bogotá, en la cual desde enero de este año se han recibido 7 amenazas en total y en las cuales se señalan a varios estudiantes y profesores de la Universidad como objetivos militares de grupos paramilitares y aguilas negras.

4. En algunos casos las personas amenazadas han aparecido desde la primera amenaza de este año, existiendo una reincidencia frente a ciertos activistas de la Universidad, por lo que la situación es especialmente preocupante.

5. El clima de persecución ha aumentado teniendo en cuenta los diferentes señalamientos realizados contra miembros activos del movimiento estudiantil colombiano por parte de miembros del estado colombiano y de la coalición uribista del Congreso de la República. Ejemplo de ello es la recientemente conocida investigación contra 55 personas de las universidades (profesores, estudiantes y egresados), por la cual un Fiscal Anti terrorismo pidió que se revisaran todas las bases de datos de las universidades desde el año 1992.


1. El día 12 de noviembre llega a los correos electrónicos del Departamento de Derecho y el Consejo de la Facultad de Derecho, Ciencias Políticas y Sociales de la Universidad Nacional sede Bogotá una nota amenazante titulada "ÚLTIMA ADVERTENCIA".

Continuando con la lógica de las amenazas que se habían recibido en las semanas anteriores, se señala como objetivo militar de la organización paramilitar Águilas Negras a treinta y tres (33) personas entre las que se encuentran doce (12) miembros de la Federación de Estudiantes Universitarios y cuatro (4) egresados de la Universidad Nacional, dos (2) profesores de la Facultad de Derecho y Ciencias Políticas.

Pero además de la declaratoria de estas personas como objetivo militar, se establece por parte de esta organización un "toque de queda" dentro del campus universitario:

"(…) decretamos el toque de queda en la Universidad Nacional a partir del 18 de noviembre, no para los estudiantes sino para los subversivos, no deben permanecer en los predios universitarios entre 6:00 pm y 6:00 am pues ya dispusimos de personal para hacer presencia en esta zona"

2. Además de la declaración de este toque de queda, la nota señala que estos grupos paramilitares han decidido declarar el campus universitario como un campo de batalla y que no volverán a hacer públicas listas negras, ya que aquello es crear "idiotas útiles para la subversión", sino que comenzarán a actuar directamente, sin mas advertencias.

3. Esta es la quinta amenaza que se recibe contra estudiantes de la Universidad Nacional después de las irresponsables declaraciones hechas por la Senadora del Partido de la U Gina Parody, de las declaraciones señaladoras de la ex Directora del Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad – DAS.











Bogotá, 12 DE NOVIEMBRE DE 2008

La Minga de Resistencia Social y Comunitaria sesionará en la Plaza de Bolívar

Hoy que la Minga anuncia su entrada a la capital del país, los voceros de las organizaciones sociales, que realizan gestiones de acercamiento con las instituciones, alertan frente a los obstáculos que la rectoría de la Universidad Nacional presenta para no albergar a los caminantes de la Palabra en los predios de la misma, expresando que dicha actitud resulta intransigente y no responde a los objetivos de la universidad pública, los cuales deben estar dirigidos a promover el debate y la formulación de salidas inteligentes y civilistas para todo el país.

El pasado 2 de noviembre, en La María, Piendamó, ante el presidente Uribe, quedó abierto el Debate Nacional con La Minga de Resistencia Social y Comunitaria, por lo cual se informó ante el país que continuaríamos en Marcha hacia la capital del país.

Desde entonces, los caminantes de la Palabra, hemos llegado a Cali, Palmira, Armenia, Cajamarca, Ibagué, Chicoral y Fusa, sitios donde los ciudadanos han manifestado su complacencia y solidaridad con la Minga, así como su descontento con la política social y económica que afecta a las mayorías del país.

El gobierno por su parte, desde diferentes voces, ha obstaculizado de forma permanente el avance de la Minga, sea directamente por el presidente Uribe o por la fuerza pública que ya intentó impedir la entrada de más de 6 mil personas a la ciudad de Ibagué; sea por funcionarios locales que argumentando autonomías administrativas han disculpado su apoyo logístico, o como actuó la comandante de la policía de Chicoral, quien megáfono en mano le mintió a los habitantes diciendo que la marcha era peligrosa, prohibiendo salir de sus casas a los lugareños, así como acercarse a observar los pormenores de la Audiencia Pública programada.

Compartiendo la necesidad de visibilizar la situación de los diferentes sectores sociales, en especial los de carácter popular, las organizaciones cívicas, sindicales, estudiantiles, trabajadores, corteros de caña, ambientalistas, desplazados y víctimas de la violencia y de acciones de agentes del Estado que violan los derechos humanos y el derecho internacional humanitario, quienes han manifestado su apoyo y solidaridad con la Minga de Resistencia Social y Comunitaria. Por lo anterior, en todas las localidades que ha caminado la Minga, se han conformando equipos de difusión y relaciones con instituciones tanto defensoras de derechos humanos como del orden administrativo distrital, departamental y nacional, buscando que éstas garanticen una estadía en condiciones dignas a los miles de colombianos que llegan caminado desde diferentes puntos del territorio nacional.

Hoy que la Minga anuncia su entrada a la capital del país, los voceros de las organizaciones sociales, que realizan gestiones de acercamiento con las instituciones, alertan frente a los obstáculos que la rectoría de la Universidad Nacional presenta para no albergar a los caminantes de la Palabra en los predios de la misma, expresando que dicha actitud resulta intransigente y no responde a los objetivos de la universidad pública, los cuales deben estar dirigidos a promover el debate y la formulación de salidas inteligentes y civilistas para todo el país.

La Minga en su caminar por el territorio nacional ha demostrado disciplina, orden, respeto por la convivencia ciudadana, así como autonomía y control, en especial por la presencia y acción de la guardia indígena, las autoridades tradicionales y los voceros de organizaciones sociales, tal como lo han constatado las autoridades locales, la comunidad educativa y los comuneros de los sitios visitados. Por esta razón La Minga de Resistencia Social y Comunitaria recuerda que llegará a la Plaza de Bolívar, donde se reunirá con organizaciones y sectores sociales, esperando que las instituciones administrativas del orden distrital y nacional, faciliten la libre circulación de la Minga evitando los señalamientos, el tratamiento policial de orden público y la militarización de la protesta social.

En este caminar la Minga de Resistencia Social y Comunitaria anuncia que participará, el jueves 20 de los corrientes, en la Audiencia Pública programada por los familiares de las víctimas de los falsos positivos, a realizarse en Soacha. Ese mismo día estaba programado llegar a la Universidad Nacional acogiendo la invitación y respaldo de estudiantes, trabajadores y profesores, sin embargo, según vice-rectoría de esa institución, se argumento su incapacidad para albergar la Minga, por situaciones referidas al calendario académico y de seguridad que la administración no puede controlar. En consecuencia los caminantes de la palabra se establecerán desde su llegada en la plaza de Bolívar con el apoyo de la Alcaldía Mayor de Bogotá.

El viernes 21 de noviembre, estudiantes, trabajadores y otros sectores sociales de Bogotá, convergerán en la Plaza de Bolívar, en donde se unirán a la Minga de Resistencia Social y Comunitaria para indicar la continuidad de esta iniciativa de país que venimos construyendo entre todas las mayorías populares.


Fusagasugá, noviembre 15 de 2008.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Paramilitaries Threatening Peace Community in Northwest Colombia


Our friends at the Fellowship of Reconciliation Task Force on Latin America and the Caribbean are drawing our attention to an urgent situation facing the peace community in San Jose de Apartado, in northwestern Colombia. While the President of Colombia likes to point out that he has singlehandedly dismantled the Paramilitary Armies that have terrorized Colombia for years, we are seeing signs that their presence has actually escalated in some parts of the country. One of those areas is in San Jose, a community that has resisted the violence of the internal armed conflict for a generation, serving as an inspiration to people around the world committed to social change and justice through non-violent, peaceful means. Below is their urgent action communique; help spread the word!


Paramilitary forces are making increasingly violent threats against members of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó and other peasant families in the area, with no apparent action by the Colombian government.

Immediate action is needed by US Ambassador William Brownfield to leverage Washington's enormous influence and prevent further violence against the community and area's civilian population.

On the morning of November 7, in the Playa Larga vereda (settlement) of San José, some 50 rifle-wielding paramilitaries in camouflage gear and identifying armbands detained resident Jairo Berrio Arango, according to a community statement. He was forced to undress as the gunmen held a rifle to his head and threatened to kill him on the spot. When his father arrived on the scene and pleaded with them, they said they wouldn't kill him now-but that they had six San José community members targeted for death, and that they should flee immediately to avoid being killed. They said the army was cooperating with them. On November 7, five families fled the vereda of La Esperanza, where Berrio Arango's family is from, and local sources reported to FOR that between nine and 30 families had displaced from La Esperanza and Playa Larga as of November 10.

On November 1, the Peace Community's legal representative, Jesús Emilio Tuberquia, was threatened at gunpoint at an Internet café in the town of Apartadó, the local municipal seat,the community reported. Two known paramilitaries surrounded him at the café, while one held a pistol to his head and said, "I'm going to kill you." He pushed the man's arm away, fled into the café and was able to flee unharmed, though the gunmen grabbed his bag, which had fallen in the scuffle.

Background: Paramilitary Resurgence in Northwestern Colombia

[Colombians protest state terrorism]Young men fanned out through the towns along what is known as the "banana axis" of Urabá on the evening of October 14, telling local businesses to shut down the following day. The men distributed leaflets announcing the continuation of the "anti-subversive struggle" in light of "the guerrillas' advance" and what the group described the government's non-fulfillment of promises made in the paramilitary demobilization. Spray-painted graffiti with the initials of the group- AGC, Gaitanista Self-Defense Forces of Colombia were seen on various shops and city walls. The action shut down public transport, retail businesses and banana plantations throughout the region. Many students didn't go to school, and some humanitarian groups suspended visits to communities.

Armed forces chief General Freddy Padilla dismissed concerns about the strike, saying curiously that it was not a paramilitary rearmament, but an act of terrorism, implying that paramilitaries do not practice terrorism. Seventeenth Brigade commander General Héctor Peña Porras claimed there was no armed strike, because no one was armed, but reliable sources informed FOR that armed men were present in neighborhoods between Apartadó and San José.

President Alvaro Uribe, with support from the United States, insists that paramilitaries no longer exist in Colombia. But for the San José Peace Community, the paramilitary action was simply the announcement of an already-existing reality. The Peace Community has for months been reporting the presence of increasingly large groups of armed men in the area, who apparently belong to non-demobilized groups. On October 30, paramilitaries threatened to kill six members of the Community and to commit another massacre in the area if members of the community did not leave the area. The Community declared that on 29 September "more than 100 paramilitaries arrived in the area of La Unión armed with assault weapons, bearing AUC armbands and presented themselves as Self-Defense Forces" and proceeded to threaten Peace Community members, saying that they had over "200 paramilitaries were present in the Playa Larga area, 20 minutes from la Esperanza, detaining two farmers (…) and accusing them of being guerrillas." On 14 and 15 August, 60 presumed paramilitaries, originating from the Nueva Antioquia area, dressed in camouflage combat gear and carrying assault weapons, were present in the areas of Playa Larga and la Esperanza. The Peace Community reports that in La Esperanza these armed men arrived at houses of Peace Community members and threatened them if they refused to collaborate in ridding the area of guerrillas. One source reports that paramilitaries in the area are also using armbands with FCU, for the Urabá Central Front.

On August 31, fighting took place between the insurgency and presumed paramilitaries in Playa Larga, close to the settlement of La Esperanza . Several reports indicate the existence of a paramilitary base in Nueva Antioquia where the army and police exercise strict control of all those entering the settlement and whilst inside Nueva Antioquia, "The paramilitaries (…) control the food, charge taxes on the products the small farmers bring there to sell, all this in full public view of the army and police."

How does this state of affairs occur in such an extremely militarized area? What allows the alleged paramilitary base in Nueva Antioquia to exist in close proximity to Army and police checkpoints?

Please write to United States Ambassador William Brownfield, and request that he urge the Colombian government to:

(1) Recognize and denounce the problem of paramilitary remobilization throughout Urabá.

(2) Suspend all military and police officers who reportedly have turned a blind eye to the paramilitary groups, their presence and threats; and

(3) Aggressively pursue arrest and prosecution of all members of illegal armed groups operating in the region, and government officials who have facilitated their actions.

Your letters make a difference! Please click here to send yours.

For further information: http://www.forcolombia.org and http://cdpsanjose.org

Please note new office address for FOR Task Force on Latin America:
Fellowship of Reconciliation369 15th St, Oakland CA 94612Tel: 510-763-1403 Fax: 510-763-1409Web: http://www.forcolombia.org
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