Indigenous mobilization challenges Colombian government
August 13, 2012
Indigenous resistance in Colombia has become a social movement. Colombia’s right wing, U.S. supported government has to deal with that now, plus guerrilla insurgencies and agitation for negotiated peace. The indigenous, guerrillas and leftist opposition parties are all fighting against the take-over of land and subsoil resources by the wealthy few and the Colombian government which supports them.
Indigenous people from throughout Colombia and beyond gathered on August 9 in Popayán, capital of Cauca department in Colombia’s southwest. Some 15,000 indigenous people demonstrated in the streets the next day. Later, they later marched to an indigenous reserve 12 miles away. Students, small farmers, and Afro-Colombians were also on hand on August 12 -13 for the National Indigenous Encounter in Defense of Mother Earth, organized by the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca.
Dora Muñoz of the Association of Indigenous Councils of North Cauca set the stage: “The indigenous of Cauca won’t leave our territory, nor are we going to allow indiscriminate exploitation of Mother Earth. [We want] to consolidate our autonomous territories and our own government…For us, Mother Earth is sacred, for the government and multinationals, it’s wealth.”
Cauca is rich in natural resources, coca plantations, and drug trafficking corridors. Pacifist Nasa indigenous people make up 95 percent of its population.
Also at issue for Nasa people, says CRIC, are unfulfilled promises regarding health and education; guarantees on human rights; prior consultation for government actions affecting the indigenous; lack of dialogue on peace; and, crucially, removal of armed combatants from their homelands.