This is an urgent message that I received over the weekend from friends in Cauca, Colombia. The threats and attacks against the ASSOCIATION OF INDIGENOUS COUNCILS OF NORTHERN CAUCA, ACIN, continue, and in particular, their media/communication team. I want to share this English translation of the urgent action put out by ACIN over the weekend, put together by the Civa Collective in Canada.
The person targeted, Gustavo Ulcue, is a key member of the ACIN Tejido de Comunicacion, and a good friend. These threats must be denounced! I'll have more in the coming days.
We will not be silenced!
THREAT AGAINST INDIGENOUS COMMUNICATOR IN CAUCA, COLOMBIA
Today, they tried to get Gustavo.
With fear, outrage and relief, we denounce the latest attack against the Tejido de Comunicación (Communications Network) of the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca (ACIN). As their translated words below this message demonstrate, this attack, which was fortunately only successful enough to instill fear and nothing more, is part of a series of recent aggressions against the indigenous movement in Cauca, Colombia. In the words of the Tejido:
The members of the Tejido feel at imminent risk, not because we have committed a crime, but simply because we speak the truth and defend life.
The intended victim of this attempted attack, Gustavo Ulcué, is a dear friend of La Chiva and instrumental in the publication of the ACIN's profoundly effective website (www.nasaacin.org). It is Gustavín that manages the technical end of the website and keeps it regularly updated. The NASA-ACIN website is the primary means through which the indigenous movement in Northern Cauca has brought the messages of their communities, the 'life plans' as they so appropriately describe them, to the broader national and international community. They provide a source of information and inspiration not only for Colombia's social movements but also for those of us in other places who seek to weave together our struggles for another possible and necessary world.
We call on the appropriate Colombian authorities to seriously investigate the series of aggressions made against the Tejido. More importantly, we call on all of those with an eye on Colombia to rally in support and defense of the communities in Cauca and their Tejido de Comunicación, which has ceaselessly brought their messages to us, threatening the viability of the transnational 'death project' in every corner of the world that it lingers.
NO ESTÁN SOL@S!
THEY ARE NOT ALONE!
CAMINEMOS LA PALABRA CON EL TEJIDO DE COMUNICACIÓN!
LET US WALK THE WORD WITH THE TEJIDO!
La Chiva Collective -- Canada
See the original Spanish text here: http://www.nasaacin.org/
ATTEMPT ON THE LIFE OF ACIN COMMUNICATOR
At around 3pm on February 7, 2009, two men on a motorcycle arrived at the home of Gustavo Adolfo Ulcué, a member of the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca's (ACIN's) Tejido de Comunicación [Communications Network]. Gustavo's brother was at home alone when the two men came looking for him. Stating that Gustavo was not present, the men broke in while aiming a gun at him. They then searched the entire house before entering Gustavo's bedroom and stealing his laptop computer. As the men were leaving, they left his brother with the following threat: "Be thankful that Gustavo wasn't here, because if he was we would have finished him off."
This act occurred in the context of an integral campaign of aggression directed against the indigenous communities of Northern Cauca and, at the very least, represents a violation of freedom of speech. Gustavo Ulcué is a member of the Communications Network [Tejido de Comunicación y Relaciones Externas para la Verdad y la Vida], for which he helps run the website, www.nasaacin.org. The Tejido is part of a communications strategy designed to denounce aggressive attacks like those which it currently faces. Moreover, it works to make visible possible alternatives for life in support of indigenous communities and social and popular processes in Colombia and Latin America. At the local level, the Tejido provides fundamental information to the community so that it may reflect, decide, and act in the defense of life and territory.
Once again, our strategy is the root cause of why we have been threatened and attacked. Towards the end of 2008, we were threatened during the Minga of Resistance, a national mobilization organized by the community, by having our web page (www.nasaacin.org) blocked and leaving us without access to our community radio station. In a concerted attack in mid-December, the cables for the transmission equipment of Radio Pa'Yumat were ripped out, completely destroying our equipment. As a consequence, the voice of the Nasa indigenous community has been silenced. We are in a vulnerable state, one in which at any moment our community can be threatened or attacked. Without access to an effective means of communication, the response can only be silence, and the ability of our communities to mobilize effectively against future attacks will be seriously hindered.
The theft of Gustavo's computer and the threat against his life are evidence of an aggressive campaign being waged against the ACIN's Communications and External Relations Network. Their hunt for Gustavo does not surprise us, especially now that we are entering a particularly critical period where silence is the goal of the aggressor. The members of the Tejido feel at imminent risk, not because we have committed a crime, but simply because we speak the truth and defend life. We have been threatened and attacked because we have not given into private interests. Instead, we reflect alongside the community in an effort to make decisions that are coherent and consistent with our organized community process.
Fortunately, Gustavo is fine. In the meantime, we remain on high alert and strongly denounce our persecution for having openly defended the ACIN's popular indigenous process and for being voices of the Minga of Resistance and its agenda to defend life and dignity.
We will not be silenced! The freedom of the word reveals the path and life!
Tejido de Comunicación y Relaciones Externas
Santander de Quilichao, 7 February, 2009.
Tejido de Comunicación y Relaciones Externas para la Verdad y la Vida
Asociación de Cabildos Indígenas del Norte del Cauca - ACIN
Telefax: 0928 - 290958 - 293999
Santander de Quilichao Cauca -Colombia
La Chiva is a collective of people working in solidarity with Colombian and Canadian social movements and communities.