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Monday, April 30, 2007

More than 500 Indigenous Children Claim in Choco state and take over the governors office in Quibdo

(Translated by Steve Cagan, a CSN volunteer translator)
Monday, April 23, 2007
The Communications Office of ONIC (The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia) resends:
A Communiqué to Public Opinion—
An Alert from El Chocó!
ONIC: Luis Evelts Andrade Casama, President, 315-857-2995 (cell phone)
Rafael Epiayu (312-351-4937) (ONIC Education Office)/ 312-639-4123 (Communications)
OREWA-Chocó: César Querágama 311-747-9483, President
OREWA Education Office: Baltazar Mecha 311-784-7738
OREWA Communications: Davidson Mecha 316-790-1484

Because Our Mother Earth Has Been Profaned. Maltreated. Sacked, And Our Lives Threatened, We Boys, Girls And Women Have Come Down From The Mountains, We Have Come From Our Forests And Rivers To Demand Our Rights
Today the indigenous Peoples inform public opinion of El Chocó, Colombia and the whole world that we are and we remain prepared for the struggle. Boys, girls, women and men, we have made the decision to demonstrate against the abandonment and humiliation to which we have been submitted by the municipal, departmental and national authorities, not only recently, but for a long time.
We are tired of the systematic violation of our rights, especially our rights to health care, to food, to education, to the protection of our lives. We want the cultural integrity of our peoples to be guaranteed.
In recent years the indigenous communities of the department of El Chocó have seen our life projects as Embera, Katío, Chamí, Wounaan and Tule peoples threatened as a result of the policies of the State, which do not take our cultural and territorial reality into account, and on the other hand by the armed conflict and its direct consequences in our territories,
But this happens not only in El Chocó, but also in the other regions of the country, where indigenous people have also died from lack of health care and malnutrition, where many of their men and women leaders have also been murdered, and where their territories have been threatened by the invasions of the legal and illegal armed groups and by the multinational companies with their strategies of extraction and exploitation of our resources, all of this added to the bad management and diversion of public resources that exist to guarantee our basic fundamental rights. As the Attorney General of the nation said, to steal health care money is the same as committing murder. So with our struggle we demand that these words be translated into deeds, since it has been a long time that they have been murdering and massacring us not only in the question of health care, but also in the other fundamental rights, and it has not seemed to matter to any official body.
It is these threats and attacks against our peoples that today require us to mobilize and to remain peacefully here in front of the departmental government of El Chocó, and action that has the solidarity of the indigenous people of Riosucio, El Chocó and the Indigenous Organization of Colombia, ONIC.
WE DEMAND THE IMMEDIATE PRESENCE, in order to negotiate our petition and demands, of people with decision-making power who can represent the following state institutions:
The Presidency of the Republic
The Vice-Presidency of the Republic
The Ministry of the Interior
The Ministry of Social Protection
The National Ministry of Education
The Ministry of Mines and Energy
The Ministry of Agriculture
The National Planning Department
The Director of Social Services for El Chocó
The Government of El Chocó
Social Action of El Chocó
INCODER (The Colombian Institute of Rural Development)
We urgently call upon the following institutions to serve as guarantors of our negotiations:
The Diocese of Quibdó
From the United Nations: UNHCR, UNHCR Colombia Office, UNICEF
The Public Defender of Ethnic Minorities
The Regional Public Rights Defender
The Regional Public Attorney
The Organization “Paz y Tercer Mundo” (“Peace and the Third World”)
We stress that our presence here is peaceful, and we therefore demand respect for the constitutional rights of free movement and protest. The majority of the population here are boys, girls and women, and we ask that we be granted the necessary humanitarian conditions.
Of the people of El Chocó we ask your solidarity, that you unite with our peaceful protest, because we are all suffering the same evils.
Quibdó, El Chocó, April 23, 2007
Cc: Negotiating institutions of the state and, guarantor institutions and the media.
Petitions: Justifications and Petitions!!!!
Because Our Mother Earth Has Been Profaned. Maltreated. Sacked, And Our Lives Threatened, We Boys, Girls And Women Have Come Down From The Mountains, We Have Come From Our Forests And Rivers To Demand Our Rights
For several years the indigenous peoples of El Chocó, through multiple LEGAL routes and actions, carrying out due processes, have been demanding of the Colombian state a response to our demands, given the permanent and systematic violations of our economic, social, cultural and environmental rights.
Being the owners of the territory where we have lived forever, and because of the continuous violations of our rights as peoples, we are obliged to mobilize and protest, demanding from the state dignified conditions in order to continue to inhabit this territory that has a significance for us that is different from what it has for the businessmen, the landlords, and the state itself. A significance that has been constructed in a strict relation of community-human being-nature, which is why our territory is not simply the environment that surrounds the human being, but rather that the human being makes up part of nature, and this creates a special way of organizing ourselves, of creating rules for controlling, holding and exploiting the territory. Therefore, any assault on the human being is an assault against the territory, and is an assault against our dignity.
An indigenous people lives in dignity when they can inhabit its territory, make use of it, and take advantage of its resources, when they have possibilities to enjoy their fundamental rights, such as health care, education, food, lodging and territory, and when they can live well in accordance with their own world view and cultural practices, but these rights of ours are being damaged. We, as indigenous peoples, have our life plans, our own conception of development, and it is in our territory that we are able to develop our thinking. That is why through our struggles we have won partial recognition on the part of the state, like title to certain reserves in the Department of El Chocó, but there is still a great deal of what has always been ours to be recognized.
What’s happening here in El Chocó is that we indigenous peoples inhabit a very rich territory and in the last several years domestic and foreign investors, in negotiations with the national and departmental governments, have been trying to use and exploit our territory with their own idea of development, and in order to accomplish this in addition to their capital they use armies of mercenaries, a cheap labor force and machinery with the latest technology. This is how they are destroying the life of the planet.
In the same way the national government has created laws like the Forestry Law, the Mining Code, the law of the Rural Development Statute and the projected Water Law. These laws reform the law of transfers within the political platform of “democratic security” and “judicial security” with regulations fixed for the companies, favoring the interests of  big investors with their multinationals, violating the territorial rights of the indigenous peoples and international agreements such as #169 of the ILO.  Many of the permissions which have been given to these companies are given without the required previous consultation with the indigenous communities. Leaders are manipulated with trinkets in order to get the authorization of the communities—all of that within the framework of the Free Trade Treaty.
We have insisted that we are not opposed to the development of the country, only that these models that they have been imposing on us by blood and fire for 55 years are being proposed by a society that is exclusionary and discriminatory, that is appropriate only for those who have the means and resources to overexploit their resources. What we have proposed and now propose is a society that is equitable and in equilibrium with nature, that is why they accuse us of being opposed to the progress or the development of the country. Nonetheless, we continue forward in our task of recovering and building our own development with equity and recognition of the diversity of this country.
We become ever more aware that with the argument that there will be more investment in the country, the government makes a commitment to the multinationals to privatize water, the forests, petroleum, the mountain tops, the biodiversity, the mines, the ancestral wisdom and life itself. In other words, we can affirm that they are making a gift of us to the multinationals. Since we have resisted these new forms of colonization, they have therefore within this dynamic used legal and illegal groups placed in the service of these companies that invade our territories, turn them into battlefields, forcing our people to displace themselves in order to occupy the territories, establishing their mining emporiums, their oil palm and coca plantations, and thus extracting all the cells of our mother earth.
Now the Colombian state is very concerned about the deaths of our indigenous children; we are too, but we have to clarify to the country the real causes of what is happening here: problems that have been denounced now for many years, and we do not understand how the organs of control only now are initiating processes of investigation. Health care and the ways that the agreements for providing this service are established, from Law 100 itself, favor private interests, corruption and diversion of the moneys; in these corrupt practices, we indigenous peoples have been the most affected. In the field of education, four years ago we denounced the diversion of more than 13 billion pesos, with which this service should have been provided to indigenous children, without its having been investigated or the people responsible for this crime having been punished until now. The national government is an accomplice in this abuse of the indigenous peoples, because it has ignored all our denunciations and demands.
Our children do not need only a market to satisfy their hunger; we need to be able to guarantee them a dignified and healthy life always. That is to say, or children do not only die because of malnutrition, but also because of the lack of health attention and because in recent years our productive, cultural and sacred practices have been altered by the gravity of the armed conflict. The Colombian government has always known this; we have many memos of commitment and signed agreements without having any responses up until now.
In addition to the territorial recognition other things are needed, among them political will from the government at the national departmental and municipal levels. We are tired of talking and waiting, of having the politicians and some functionaries blaming each other, some saying that the resources from the national level have not arrived, others—those from the national level—that they are robbed within the department. Truth or lie, the control organizations of the state will be able to determine through their investigations’ what is clear to us is that our rights have always been violated and our lives and continuity as peoples are threatened.
We therefore DEMAND that the national and departmental governments and municipal administrations respect and carry out Agreement 160 of the ILO, through Law 21 of 1991, the Colombian Political Constitution and other special rules that protect our rights and thereby move forward the necessary processes to guarantee the following demands:
Territory Component:
1. The construction and development of a National Council of Social Economic Planning (CONPES) for indigenous peoples.
2. Titling of more than ten indigenous reserves.
3. Expanding of more than twenty indigenous reserves.
4. Cleaning of more than fifty-five indigenous reserves.
5. That none of the laws (the forest law, mining code, water law, rural statute) be applied in the indigenous territories and that a demand be given to the Congress for an exhaustive revision of said laws.
6. That our right to previous consultation, established in the ILO Agreement 169, ratified by the national government in Law 21 of 1991, be respected.
7. That both the legal and illegal armed groups respect the exercise of autonomy by the indigenous peoples
8. That the national, departmental and local governments respect the management, the rules and the organization of the territories that our authorities have carried out and will carry out.
9. We demand of the national government that they not promote or sign proposed laws that attack our fundamental rights; in the case of the Rural Development Statute, we demand that the government withdraw this initiative from the congress and that they employ all the necessary mechanisms in order not to continue with this legislative process.
Health Component:
1. Support for the health program that is developed by our organizations. Agreement with our life plans and strengthening of the organizational structures that our peoples have built in order to attend to the area of health care.
2. Construction and donation of eight (8) health centers strategically located in the zones of Catrú, Alto Andágueda, Medio San Juan, Quibdó-Carmen de Atrato Highway, Juradó, Bojayá, Riosucio and Bajo Baudó, assigning positions for medical personnel and nursing that would permit the indigenous peoples located in these territories to have direct access to said services.
3. Naming at least four persons per zone such as: health promoters, health aides, community health promoters, microscopists.
4. Naming of indigenous personnel in the centers and second level hospitals in order to facilitate the provision of service to indigenous persons, for reasons of language and culture.
5. Implement programs of food security for each of the indigenous zones in El Chocó. Based on the recovery of the wild fauna, recovery of the traditional diets and recipes of the surroundings, cultivation of food to be gathered and raising of smaller species which will permit said communities, and especially the population of children, the women and the elderly, the nutritional support in vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates that would generate defenses to limit and avoid the suffering of multiple diseases which frequently presenting our population as a product of poor nutrition.
6. Create a special administrative structure directly between the OREWA Association and the national government, for the autonomous management and control of resources destined for the indigenous peoples of El Chocó, and not have municipal or departmental intermediaries, since this has allowed the communities to be increasingly vulnerable.
7. Funding and personnel necessary for the medical attention center located en Cabí, Quibdó, and the medical attention center in Medellín.
8. Affiliation of the entire indigenous population in a health system that provides integral health services.
Education Component:
1. Guarantee the provision of education services to the totality of our population, which at this time reports the matriculation of 14,447 boys and girls, respecting our fundamental right to education, with the immediate involvement of the following personnel by the SGP (General System of Andean Preferences):
- 657 teachers
- 5 rectors for the following indigenous educational institutions: Catrú, Alto Andágueda, Medio San Juan, El Dieciocho, Juradó
- 27 teaching leaders Administrative personnel for the educational centers and institutions:
  1. Secretary
  2. Psychologist/counselor
  3. Nurse
  4. General services
  5. Watchman

2. Revoke the decrees that took the teachers out of the national system in 2006, so that, being reintegrated, they will not lose their work seniority and the guarantees with which they have been working without tenure support.
3. Carrying out Mandate 02 of 2003 of the indigenous peoples and certified by the departmental secretary of education, who organizes the personnel lists for our communities
4. That the provision of educational services be given in fulfillment of Decree 208 of March 2007, ratifying constitutional rights, Law 115 of 1994, Decree 804 of 1995 and other special rules.
5. Investigation of departmental administrations between 2003 and 2006 for the poor management and diversion of resources destined for attention to the indigenous population and the lack of compliance with Law 715 of 2001, as well as investigation of the municipal governments that failed to carry out the decision of the Constitutional Court expressed in Ministerial Directive 002 of January 18, 2005, which obliges them to contract the teachers who were working before February 9, 1994.
6. Official recognition of the indigenous educational institutions and centers through a special administrative act.
7. A mandate from the national government that orders the municipalities to give quality resources to our population, with a specific assignment to the indigenous communities, for the construction of 80 schools, the reparation and expansion of 248 schools, the donation of teaching materials and furniture for them and for community training, literacy, curriculum design.
8. The immediate assignment of 1,370,880,00 pesos [approx 63,000 USD] in economic resources for training of indigenous teachers.
9. The expansion of capacity for the school cafeterias in the 248 indigenous schools of El Chocó, following our customs and practices.
10. Guaranteeing the immediate fulfillment by the National Ministry of Education and the Departmental Secretary of Education of the commitments signed with our peoples in the documents of 2003.
Human Rights Component:
1. Immediate and permanent integral attention to the displaced and returned indigenous communities in line with agreements already reached, taking into account the differential plan of attention to the indigenous peoples, by agreements and permanent cooperative action with local, zonal, regional and national indigenous organizations.
2. Facilitate investigations and punishment of officers of the public forces (army and police) who have violated the lives and dignity, the physical and moral integrity of different indigenous persons.
3. Take the measures necessary to guarantee that the public forces do not continue the process of violation of the rights of our peoples and respect both the human rights and the jurisdiction and internal laws of our peoples.
4. Guarantee that the public forces (army and police) respect our right to free movement and stop confiscating the food and medicines that we need for the life and health of our communities.
5. We demand that the national government sign the bill of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the United Nations and the OAS, y for this we hope that they would assign the judicial and political resources necessary for this goal.
Quibdó, Chocó, April 23, 2007
National Indigenous Organization of Colombia, ONIC
Regional Organization
ONIC Communications
OREWA [Regional Embera and Wannan Organization]
Association of Embera, Woannan, Katío, Chamí and Tule Indigenous Cabildos [Councils] of the Department of El Chocó
Unity, territory, culture and Autonomy
Resolution No. 0030 of June 2, 2005, issued by the Directorate fo Ethnic Groups of the Ministry of the Interior and of Justice
NIT [Organizational Registry]: 900060282-D.V-1
25 Years of Struggle

Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI  53701-1505
phone:  (608) 257-8753
fax:  (608) 255-6621
e-mail:  csn@igc.org

Monday, April 23, 2007


(Translated by Stacey Schlau,  a volunteer CSN translator )
National Victims of State Crimes Movement
Humanitarian Crisis in Northeast Antioquia
Rural Press Agency, April 5, 2007
A new “false positive”

Last Sunday, March 25, in the town of Ojos Claros, in the rural zone of the township of Remedios (Antioquia), troops from the Calibío Batallion, belonging to the 14th Brigade of the National Army, under the command of Lt. Castellanos and Sgt. Palomino, arbitrarily captured two young peasants of this township, one of whom escaped; the other, Carlos Mario García, twenty-one years old, remained in the hands of the military.
Confronted with these facts, the community mobilized with the purpose of demanding from the army the release of Carlos Mario. Because of the pressure the army turned over the dead body of the young peasant, who had been assassinated by soldiers about 3 pm, and was declared a “guerrillero killed in combat.”
In the moment of their capture, both young men were working, transporting wood down the Tamar River. Carlos Mario García was affiliated with the community action group of the township of Ojos Claros, and was a member of the youth cultural group of Peasant Association of the Cimitarra River Valley (ACVC).
Official Disinformation

In statements made to the regional newspaper, Vanguardia Liberal, on March 27, Colonel Jorge Alberto Segura Manonegra, commander of the 14th Brigade, announced that the supposed armed confrontation in which Carlos Mario was assassinated occurred in the township of Ojos Claros during the “Atenea 1” operation, and the troops of the 14th Engineers’ Batallion of the “Battle of Calibío” seized an AK 47 rifle, along with supplies and ammunition.
The photograph of the peasant Carlos Mario’s cadaver wrapped in black plastic, next to two soldiers of the Calibío Batallion and a rifle, was published in the Vanguardia Liberal newspaper. This article of disinformation carries the headline, “Military operations in the south of Bolívar find tailor’s shop seemingly from the FARC , and a man was killed in combat.”
The truth is that the township of Ojos Claros, where the events took place, is in northeast Antioquia, within jurisdiction of the municipality of Remedios, and not in Cantagallo, in southern Bolívar, as reported in the newspaper. Carlos Mario was neither a tailor nor a member of the FARC, but rather a transporter of wood and community leader. Besides, there was no battle. This was an assassination carried out by the Army.
On another front, the radio station has been announcing these days that displacement in the region is the result of the guerrillas. This is wrong. The community has been forced to abandon their homes and land and seek refuge because of the hostility and threats of the Army and because of the fear caused by the assassinations of peasants in the area. This is a forced displacement, to which the community and the social organizations of the area have responded by setting up a temporary internal refuge.
The peasants: condemned to death?

With Carlos Mario, Public Forces have now assassinated and disappeared twelve peasants in the past year, all of them recognized members of the community and the social organizations of the region.
The list of victims in the Cimitarra River valley and southern Bolívar for the last twelve months is as follows:
Assassinated Persons:

Carlos Trujillo, assassinated on July 25, 2006, in the township of Altos de Manila, in the municipality of Remedios, Antioquia.
Pablo Emilio Agudelo Sánchez, assassinated on September 4, 2006, in the township of Dosquebradas, in the municipality of Remedios, Antioquia.
José Manuel Girón, assassinated on September 5, 2006, in the township of Caña Dorada, municipality of Cantagallo, Bolívar.
Alejandro Uribe, assassinated on Spetember 19, 2006, in the township of Mina Gallo, municipality of Morales, Bolívar.
Guillermo León Benítez, assassinated on November 25, 2006, in the township of Cruz Bajitales, in the municipality of Remedios, Antioquia.
Heriberto Correa, assassinated on January 6, 2007, in the township of Cruz Bajitales, in the municipality of Remedios, Antioquia.
William Hernán Sánchez Montelier, assassinated on February 6, 2007, in the township of Alto Tamar, in the municipality of Remedios, Antioquia.
Edgar Lozano Castelblanco, assassinated on March 13, 2007, in the township of El Campo, municipality of Yondó, Antioquia.
Disappeared Persons:

Mercedes Rojas Naranjo, disappeared on May 26, 2006, in La Corona, municipality of El Bagre, Antioquia.
Gustavo Castañeda, disappeared on June 15, 2006, in the township of Puerto Nuevo Ité, in the municipality of Remedios, Antioquia.
Javier Francisco Castro, disappeared on June 23, 2006, in the townhsip of Puerto Matilde, in the municipality of Yondó, Antioquia.
Ovidio Betancur, disappeared on November 21, 2006, in the township of Alto Cañabraval, in the municipality of San Pablo, Bolívar.
This long list of civilian victims is evidence of the systematic practice of extermination of peasant community, whose clear and visible responsibility is the Colombian Army, and especially the Joint Work Forces made up of troops from the 5th and 14th brigades under the command of Colonel Castellanos, which carry out operations in the San Lucas mountains.
Temporary internal refuge:

In face of the regional humanitarian problematic situation, the Peasants’ Association of the Cimitarra River Valley and the Humanitarian Action Corporation for Coexistence and Peace of Northeastern Anquioquia (Cahucopana) have organized a humanitarian camp for temporary internal refuge, which was established on April 1st in the neighborhood of the township of Puerto Nuevo Ité (La Cooperativa), in the rural area of Remedios, Antioquia.
Approximately a hundred displaced families, about 350 people, have arrived in four days, coming from the townships of Camelias, Dosquebradas, Ojos Claros, and Puerto Nuevo Ité. Right now, families from other neighboring townships are beginning to mobilize to go to the temporary refuge, in order to protect themselves from the aggression of the Public Forces.

Rural Press Agency

Saravena – Arauca, April 9, 2007
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI  53701-1505
phone:  (608) 257-8753
fax:  (608) 255-6621
e-mail:  csn@igc.org

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Afro Colombia, April 9th, 2007. 
*Translated by FUNDEPAZ  
The situation of displacement of thousands of people in the municipality of El Charco in the Nariño?s Pacific coast continues. According to the municipal human rights office, until last Saturday 1.324 families (8.900 people) had been registered as displaced people, 400 of them have begun to return to their hamlets, but others are being displaced as that the troops advance.  In the part of Pulbuza, located in the middle area of the Tapaje River, are the communities of Pueblo Nuevo Tribuna, Perolindo, Guazarija, Bellavista, Maíz Blanco and California. In this area the strongest confrontations have taken place and there are dammed communities. It is calculated that near 720 people of the hamlet of Perolindo and Guazarija and residents of around 130 houses of the hamlets of Pueblo Nuevo Tribuna, California and Bellavista have not been able to leave, and potentially dramatic is that it is very little what is known about the final situation of them up now.   

According to the information that circulates in the communities a paramilitary group of 150 men, that was advancing in the high region of Patía River, are already in the place known as El Salto, in the Catalina's proximities. The last Friday 6, the guerrilla sent a bomb canoe that exploded next to a boat piraña of Marina's Infantry, but there were not fatal victims.     

Previously to the combats that took place in the area between the Revolutionary Armed forces of Colombia FARC and troops of Marina's Infantry, the area was fumigated in 6 opportunities between the months of February and March, what destroyed the crops and it caused that the population is more vulnerable to the humanitarian crisis that now they are facing.  In the whole there are not food, medicine, fuel and recipients to store rain water, those that they had were contaminated with the fumigations. The aid given up now has been sufficient to assist to not more than 70% of those displaced people that are in the municipal head. While the rest of residents that remain in their communities with a high displacement risk, is suffering skin and breathing illnesses, diarrhea and vomits in higher levels to average. The medications only reach to assist those who are in the municipal head of the El Charco and to urgent cases.  

The Municipal Authorities from El Charco have promoted the conformation of a Committee for the displaced population's attention, of which are part Government's Secretary, the Municipal Human Rights Office, the Church and in a provisional way 2 people in representation of displaced people. 

On the other hand, in the high place of the river there is a very tense calm. The lack of storage is of 80%, what means that the existence of foods in these communities would be finishing in 7 days; although there was information that it was bigger. The challenge is the supply during these days to avoid the crisis.  The fishes ponds of a project in which the young people of San José's community was participating, as well as the rural crops were poisoned by the fumigations. Traditionally all these communities have supplemented their alimentary diet with meat of hunted wild animals and other product like the banana, but due to confrontation climate they are afraid of leaving and to meet with armed people. The Women Afro-Colombian for Life Association -AMAV - with more membership in San José, Santa Catalina, Isupi, El Cuil and Las Mercedes communities, decided to send 66% of the humanitarian aid to the dammed communities of Pulbuza, in the middle area of the river. 

The hamlets where the massive displacement have took place are : Morrito, Pulbuza La Vega, Pulbuza Pueblo Nuevo, Brazo Seco, Tribuna, Perolindo, Guazarija, Treviño, Vuelta Larga, Castigo, Bola, Bolita, Salto Magdalena, Magdalena, Boca de Taija, Chachajo, Guabillo, San Rafael, San Francisco, Chapilero, Taijita, Ojal. Monte Alto Arriba, Monte Alto Abajo, Brazo Seco, Magdalena, Alfonso López.  The displaced people are located in several housings in the rural area and at homes of several neighborhoods of the municipal head too.  

In the hamlets Castigo, Treviño, Magdalena, Pulbuza - La Vega, Pulbuza - I Pueblo Nuevo it is informed that there are walls and roofs of housings and shops affected. The school of Pulbuza ? La Vega was destroyed by the confrontations between Guerrilla and Infantry of Marina. Besides people reports that personal objects such as jewels, silver, radio and electric plants of the communities were stolen.  In the whole rural area of the El Charco there are little refuge places, the schools, places in those that the population could take refuge, are insecure in the main. In middle of the confrontation the communities are exposed, as it shows what happened in hamlet Pueblo Nuevo, where the army arrived to the village at 4:00 in the afternoon ?we come to rescue them? they said. The guerrilla was to the front of the village and at 5:30 in the afternoon the confrontations began being the community in the middle of the battle.   

In addition to humanitarian aid, organizations like the Community Council Higher of the Tapaje River, Organichar and Simana-El Charco, request the conformation of the Municipal Council for the Attention to Displaced Population and the presence of a Verification Commission, which is conformed by the control organisms and international institutions with activities in Colombia, and with participation of at least a spokesman in an security  council which must be carried out at the end of next week. 

The situation of the thousands of people, most of them afro-Colombians, is not easy: many of them in middle the military pressure that they lives have not been able to move, and most of those that moved, surely, they won't return until the confrontations finish.  It is necessary to guarantee the appropriate attention of all the people and communities in situation of high risk and displacement, as well as the respect of the armed actors of the rights of the communities and this way to avoid a terrible tragedy as the one happened in Bojayá, such as a member of the Advisory Commission of Choco, told us. 

Human Rights Team

Black Communities in Colombia Process - PCN 

*Translated by FUNDEPAZ  
Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI  53701-1505
phone:  (608) 257-8753
fax:  (608) 255-6621
e-mail:  csn@igc.org

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Jaibaná [Embera healer] Cleansing of the Medio Atrato Territory in Antioquia

(Translated by Steve Cagan, a CSN volunteer translator )
The song of the Jai [Spirits]. “The territorial cleaning will be carried out on March 30, 2007. The preparation for the ritual is begun two weeks earlier. For the jaibanás (Embera healers) it will not be enough to conduct one ritual; the damage that is being done requires that may more be carried out. For the native people, the Cerro de “Careperro” (Careperro Ridge) is the witness of the indigenous struggles; with its destruction the memory of a thousand-year long struggle will also be destroyed, and all the secrets and testimonies of the existence of the native people of the Medio Atrato.” [i.e., the area of the middle range of the Atrato River]
The native people of Murindó (in the Medio Atrato, on the Antioquia side of the river) ask sister organizations, the media and embassies for their solidarity and presence so that we can condemn the consequences that the exploitation of the Cerro de “Careperro” will have for the communities that are settled in the Uradá-Jiguamiando and Murindó native reserves.
The Municipality of Murindó is rich in biodiversity and forest that have not been worked. The indigenous communities inhabit the reserved territories of Chagerado (5 communities) and the Murindó Reserve (4 communities) with a population of approximately 1,200 inhabitants. The Reserve of Uradá-Jiguamiandó belongs to the Municipality of Carmen del Darién (El Chocó), with a population of approximately 800 inhabitants, between native people and our brothers of the black communities.
In the Cerro de “Careperro,” geologists have detected the presence of a large mineral deposit with a high percentage of copper. In the territories of the Indigenous Reserves of Uradá-Jiguamiandó and of the Murindó River, at their boundaries, there is a place that is sacred for the Embera, known as Usa Kira in the Embera language. For the western world, it appears on the maps as the “Careperro” Ridge. The communities that live near the ridge know that the only people who can enter or move around in this zone are the Jaibanás (traditional authorities) who know and have alliances with the Jais (spirits).
Our Jaibanás know that exploiting the “Careperro” Ridge would mean for the Embera world the loss of equilibrium between man and nature, which would cause displacement, division and problems among the people. The spirits would become powerless, and they would charge the community not to do anything to avoid this exploitation, sickening and causing death of children and adults.
The rivers and the soil would be contaminated, epidemics would appear, and the powers of the Jaibanás would end because they would not have the support of plants and spirits to carry out their rituals and converse with the jai. Medical and edible plants would be lost, as well as flora and a diversity of insects and birds that are not in the national or international ecological inventories, and that the pharmaceutical companies do not yet know, depriving humanity of a global inheritance that holds secrets that would allow us all, and not just a few, to live well.
These territories would be invaded by opportunists, who while they can rely on the resources to exploit in security would build a great city, bringing with it delinquency, disease, prostitution, greater poverty and misery and inevitably the extinction and disappearance of the indigenous peoples and black communities of the zone.
In the face of this situation, our wise men want to prevent disease and death by carrying out a curing of the territory in the community of Guaguas. We are opposed to the concession contract that is held between the Colombia branch of the Muriel Mining Corporation, with headquarters in the State of Colorado, United States, and the Ministry of Mines [of Colombia] for the development and exploitation of the copper, gold, molybdenum and other minerals that nourish our spirits, a contract that covers an initial area of 2000 hectares located in the boundary areas of the municipalities of Murindó in Antioquia and Carmen del Darién in El Chocó for an extendable period of 30 years,
The first thing that the Muriel Mining company would do would be to examine the zone to be exploited for three years, and this would bring as a consequence the invasion of the territories. Afterwards, they would have three years for the construction and development work. According to the plans attached to the concession contract, the villages affected would be: the territories of the Indigenous Reserve of Uradá-Jiguamiandó, where nearly a quarter of the mineral deposits are located, and the Embera Catió Indigenous Reserve and the municipality of Murindó, where the remaining three quarters are located.
The territorial cleaning will be carried out on March 30, 2007. The preparation for the ritual is begun two weeks earlier. For the jaibanás (Embera healers) it will not be enough to conduct one ritual; the damage that is being done requires that may more be carried out. For the native people, the Cerro de “Careperro” (Careperro Ridge) is the witness of the indigenous struggles; with its destruction the memory of a thousand-year long struggle will also be destroyed, and all the secrets and testimonies of the existence of the native people of the Medio Atrato.
The IPS-AIC OIA, responsible for carrying out activities to promote health and prevent disease in the indigenous communities of the department, taking into account particular cultural features, and the Indigenous Forest Project of the Pacific have joined and are sponsoring the ritual, with the goal of supporting and strengthening the ancestral mythical knowledge of the sacred place Usa-Kira, looking for equilibrium between men and nature in order to prevent death and disease among our indigenous and black brothers.
Executive Committee
Indigenous Organization of Antioquia (Organización Indígena de Antioquia—OIA)
Ancestral Communities of the Medio Atrato of Antioquia

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Human Rights violations by Army increase according to UN

March 15, 2007

Complaints increase about human rights violations by security forces in Colombia, says UN
(Translated by Kevin Funk, a volunteer CSN translator)

Juan Pablo Corlazzoli, from the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The organization affirms that the state forces are killing more civilians every day, and in many cases attempt to present them as guerrillas killed in combat.

The Bogotá office of the United Nations High Commissioner¹s representative presented its annual report this Thursday about abuses in Colombia.

³The Office observed an increase in the number of complaints in respect to 2005,² affirms the report.

³The homicides with a character of extrajudicial execution do not seem to represent isolated incidents, but rather behavior that is prone to becoming widespread,² said the report.

The report signals that an incorrect interpretation of the security policies of President Álvaro Uribe, and the demands of the high command for soldiers to show guerrillas killed in combat, could be the culprits for the ³light increase² in that type of homicide.

The government, through a communiqué about this issue, announced last night that the Ministry of Defense will assume the leadership ³in the defining of policies that (Š) guarantee the protection of human rights,² amongst others.

Juan Pablo Corlazzoli, director of the Colombia office of the High Commissioner, said that although ³problems with human rights still exist, it was able to confirm that next to those critical problems there are growing levels of commitment and political will to implement solutions.¹

The report points out, however, that in the last year the government ignored the links between security forces and illegal armed groups.

Although it indicated an increase in extrajudicial executions, cases of torture, and forced disappearances by paramilitary groups and also the army, the report aligned itself with the government¹s optimistic evaluation with respect to human rights in Colombia.

In a new section of the report the High Commissioner pointed out that the main factor in human rights violations is the civil war that the country has suffered for a half century.  ³We believe that progress has been made,² said Corlazzoli.

Other organizations that observe human rights declared that the complacent tone of the document, whose criticisms in previous years angered high-level government officials who publicly threatened to revoke the office¹s mandate in Colombia, should not conceal some of its more alarming points.

In spite of the demobilization of some 31,000 paramilitary combatants as part of a peace agreement signed in 2003, the report denounces the resurgence of new armed groups.

Land Law would hit displaced: UN

Corlazzoli also warned about the possibility that some of the displaced may become victims for a second time.

The observation refers to the Rural Development Law, which already passed through the Senate and is making its way through the House.

In Article 122, the legislative proposal says that five years of possession would be enough to demonstrate ownership of a piece of land, which would in theory allow for invaders to obtain titles.

³That article should be reviewed very carefully,² Corlazzoli said, and added that it goes against those who have been forced to abandon their lands by armed actors.

In fact, the Minister of Agriculture, Felipe Arias, had promised to strike down the controversial section in the two remaining debates.   

The report also analyzed the demobilization process Œpara.¹  On that point, the international organization recognized the efforts and advances in the process, but also concerns related to guarantees for the rights of the victims to truth, justice, and reparations.

³The processes against the demobilized made clear that the mechanisms to guarantee the rights of the victims of crimes by paramilitaries are not enough,² maintains the report.

Additionally, it urges the government to dismantle the paramilitary structures that have been reorganizing.  

Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI  53701-1505
phone:  (608) 257-8753
fax:  (608) 255-6621
e-mail:  csn@igc.org

Monday, April 02, 2007

Assassinations continue in Arauca

Saravena‹Arauca, March 27, 2007


The Joel Sierra Human Rights Foundation denounces to international and national public opinion, through the network of international and national human rights NGOs, the following facts:

On March 21, 2007, at about 5:20 pm, Alexander Caballero Rodríguez, 29 years old, was assassinated in the urban zone of Saravena.

On March 25, 2007, at about 6:00 pm, in the place known as la Caseta, in the El Pescado neighborhood, Eugenio Ramón Espitia, 42 years old, was assassinated.

David Agudelo Henao, 31 years old, was assassinated on March 26, 2007, in the town of Saravena.

With these new assassinations, once again the fact that this region continues to be one of the most violent areas of the country is confirmed. This, despite the strong militarization and economic and humanitarian aid of the U. S. empire, and despite the area¹s having been declared a war zone, supposedly to regain institutional control.

The policy of ³democratic security² offered by the national government as a strategy for ending the violence and the actions of armed groups of opposition, has increased, rather than reduced bloody encounters in the eastern part of Colombia.

We call on the institutions of justice and control of the government to push forward the investigation of these facts, as well as of the possible omissions and mistakes in service that eventually could have happened. We urgently call for the immediate adoption of measures needed to protect the civilian population, preserving their fundamental rights and guaranteeing peace.

For the defense of life, human rights, and remaining on the land.

Joel Sierra Human Rights Foundation

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