Monday, October 12, 2009

The MINGA Continues in New York with Nasa Leader Rafael Coicué

For Immediate Release!


October 12th, 2009

Colombian Indigenous Rights Activist, Rafael Coicué, to Visit New York in Late October

Focus of his meetings: The Indigenous Minga – One Year Later: Colombia’s Popular Movement and the Imperial Presidency

Rafael Coicué is a native Nasa from the indigenous reserve of Corinto, in Colombia’s southwest province of Cauca. A veteran social justice activist and community organizer, he is a member of the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca, Colombia, ACIN, one of the leading regional social justice organizations in the country. Rafael is a survivor of the infamous Nilo Massacre of December 1991, where 20 Nasa people, including his brother, were killed by hooded gunman working with the Colombian National Police and local landowners. The attackers were attempting to displace the indigenous community from the Nilo Estate. The massacre, carried out with the complicity of the Colombian state, was condemned internationally, although the victims have yet to be fully compensated for the deed.

Last year, the indigenous and popular movement in Colombia carried out an unprecedented six-week mobilization to protest the government’s security and development policies, and their failure to make good on many pledges made to the indigenous communities of Colombia, including reparations for the Nilo Massacre. Today, one year later, the actions of resistance continue throughout Colombia, and in particular in the department of Cauca, where this week, a number of activities are unfolding to commemorate and rekindle the spirit of last year's historic events.

The minga popular, as it was called, galvanized Colombian public opinion and received considerable international solidarity. One year later, the indigenous movement continues to promote its five point agenda, especially in light of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe’s attempt to change the Constitution and run for an unprecedented third term in office. Human rights activists and popular sectors are concerned that Uribe’s end-run around the Constitution will further erode protections for the poorest and most marginalized sectors of the population.

Rafael Coicué will be speaking at several community events in the New York area between October 25 and 28th, and will examine the historic scope of the minga. He will give an update on the minga’s relevance today as the human rights situation continues to worsen in Colombia.

He is also available for interviews with local media representatives.

As part of his presentations, he will play highlights of the documentary video of the minga produced by ACIN’s communication team, “A Country of People’s Without Owners.”

Rafael Coicué will be in New York from October 25th through the 29th.

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