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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Indigenous nations on the Sierra Nevada reject demonstration supporting paramilitary leader

(Translated by Dave Brown, a CSN volunteer translator)

ONIC SUPPORTS THE POSITION OF THE GONAWINDUA INDIGENOUS ORGANIZAITON (ARHUACOS, KOGUIS AND WIWAS INDIGENOUS PEOPLES EN THE DEPARTMENTS OF MAGDALENA AND GUAJIRA), WHO FORM PART OF THE TERRITORIAL BOARD OF THE COUNCILS IN THE SIERRA NEVADA, ALONG WITH THE KANKWAMOS!!! AND SOLICITS THE SAME TREATMENT IN THE MEDIA, IN THE CNRP (National Press Roundtables), AND BY THE GOVERNMENT PROSECUTORS THAT ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CASE.. FROM THE COMUNIQUE THAT WE NOW RESEND!!!!

GONAWINDUA TAYRONA ORGANIZATION
COMUNIQUE FOR THE PRESS AND FOR NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC OPINION.
SANTA MARTA, JUNE 6TH, 2007

The Gonawindua Tayrona Organization (OGT) that represents the peoples, traditional authorities and indigenous communities en the departments of Magdalena and La Guajira between the basins of the Fundacion And Rancheria rivers in the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta, expresses its rejection, preoccupation, sickness and sadness as a result of the demonstration made yesterday the 5th of June, 2007 by a group of indigenous peoples of our lands, in which they support the known paramilitary boss, Hernan Giraldo Serna, during the sessions that this man held in the city of Barranquilla before the prosecutor.

a. Above all, we want to leave clear that neither our traditional authorities nor the Council Governor, legitimate representatives of our indigenous communities had any knowledge of the intention of this group of persons to travel to Barranquilla in order to support the acts of Hernan Giraldo. Because of this, these indigenous peoples did not have the endorsement or authority to, in the name of the indigenous communities, to support the recognized paramilitary boss. In this sense we vehemently reject the behavior of this indigenous group that does not represent the opinion nor the policies of our peoples, of our authorities and of our organizations that have always shown and practiced neutrality in a conflict that is not our own and that has caused so much harm to our territory and to our communities.

We have not been beneficiaries of, nor have we supported any armed group that operates with the seal of violence in our territory, but rather are victims of the shady practices that both the paramilitaries as well as the guerrillas have used to intimidate our authorities and leaders.

b. Secondly, in the recent decades it has been the indigenous peoples of the Sierra Nevada that have suffered to the largest degree, from the outrages of the armed actors that have been appropriating our ancestral territory. More than 280 Kankwamos have been assassinated and 15 have been disappeared, many of them by paramilitary groups. The Koquis of the northern slopes have suffered a similar situation where the paramilitary Block, lead by Hernan Giraldo, operates, more than 9 were assassinated by the paramilitary groups and one by guerrilla actions. In the case of the Wiwa peoples the damage is no less, as more than 280 indigenous peoples have been assassinated by the assassin's bullets of these groups, including two of our Council Governors, and more than 20 have been disappeared.

For the Arhuaco peoples, the assassination of more than 24 of our members, including the horrendous practice of cannibalism, were also part of the terror we suffered from these armed groups of paramilitaries and guerillas imposed by blood and fire on our communities.

Assassination of our leaders and members has not been the only effect that we, as ancestral peoples, have suffered.

We have also been the victims of the blockade of our roads and of the mobility of our peoples in the transport of foodstuffs from and to the Sierra, a situation that has generated a humanitarian crisis in many of our communities due to the lack of food and medicine as well as medical personnel from our health institutions.

The situation that we indigenous peoples of the Sierra Nevada have suffered has been so grave that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has ordered precautionary measures for the Wiwa people and provisional measures for the Knakwamo nation, that obligate the Colombian state to protect the life and cultural and territorial integrity of our nations.

One of the principals ordered by our authorities has been the recovery of territory to guarantee the environmental conservation throughout the Sierra Nevada and the survival of our population in the high and steeper parts of the Sierra. However, because of the presence of the paramilitary groups, this dream has been cut short on many occasions, as much by the damaging presence of illicit crops with the destruction of 150,000 hectares of forest in the last 30 years, such as by orders by the paramilitary chiefs such as Hernan Giraldo to impede the sale of parcels owned by settlers in order to be returned to the true owners, the indigenous nations.

Again, the manipulation of a few indigenous generates a generalized opinion and stigmatizes our communities and authorities, totally contrary to the mandate of or Law of Origin and of our traditional authorities that we have always practiced and transmitted to our populations and the non-indigenous society.

We are not, have not been or ever will be paramilitaries. We are not, have not been and will not be guerrillas. We are victims of a conflict foreign to our tradition and culture. We are victims of the actions of these groups such as the one that has been lead by Mr. HernĂĄn Giraldo.

We reject and openly condemn those persons from our communities that have given themselves to this painful demonstration of support to a paramilitary boss and those who have with certainty been manipulated and obligated by non indigenous people to benefit of their own interests.

JUAN MAMATACAN MOSCOTE
Council Governor
GonawidĂșa Tayrona Organization
Santa Marta - Sierra Nevada, Heart of the World, June 6, 2007-06-07







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