THREAT OF GENOCIDE OF INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES IN CAUCA, COLOMBIA
The Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca department, South-West Colombia (CRIC), publicly denounces the threat which arrived to the North of Cauca section on 11th August by email, announcing the genocide of Colombia’s indigenous populations, and perversely inferring the government’s strategy to destabalize the unity of indigenous, afro-Colombian and campesino (poor farmer) communities in the department.
It is no secret that President Alvaro Uribe Velez has declared war on indigenous communities which have decided to demand their rights. A determining moment came in March 2008, during a speech in Popayan, the capital of the Cauca department, when Uribe offered to reward those who helped to break the unity of the indigenous community [by informing on the leaders of the ‘liberation of the madre tierra’ process, in which indigenous populations are reclaiming ancestral land to which they are entitled by the 1991 political constitution]. Added to this, institutional spokesperson have consistently reiterated the message that the indigenous population benefts from state guarantees to the detriment of the rights of other sectors of society. One example was the purchase of the Villa Carola farm by the Ministry of the Interior in order to award it to displaced people, when the farm had been promised to the Kokonuko indigenous community since the 1980’s.
The text, which covers itself by claiming to be from an anti-indigenous campesino group, reproduces the same discourse used by the national government with the aim of blaming the indigenous population for the failure of land policies and the lack of agrarian reform in Colombia [.
It refers to the CRIC as ringleaders and guerrillas, and states that from this day forward (11th August) they will be found dead and disappeared, states its wish that the cities of Popayan, Cali and Bogota are free of indigenous people and that they will not allow the indigenous population to pass 1 million in Colombia [there are 1.4 million according to the 2005 census].
Clearly showing the paramilitary essence of the threat, the authors say that they have the indigenous population surrounded by intelligence members of their group, and have prepared teams and logistics support. The call for a process of military occupation and extermination against CRIC members and the paece indigenous population of Cauca. To justify this they refer to comments by the commander of the Third Brigade of the Colombian Army, in which he alleged links between the 6th front of the FARC and officials from the administration of Toribio municipality.
Later in the document, to try and hide their paramilitary identity, they again identify themselves as anti-indigenous campesinos.
It is alarming that the communication defends institutions using a tone of terrorist threat, expressing hate for Cauca’s indigenous population using institutional phrases, showing that the nazi paramilitary armies haven’t been relinquished by the President of the Republic nor by the organisms of state control.
The majority of the arguments used to discredit the indigenous population are the same ones which have been generated by political sectors in recent years, driving racial discrimination and the war against indigenous communities, and opposing any agrarian reform.
Claiming to speak on behalf of non-indigenous rural sectors but in reality defending inequality, plundering and displacement of indigenous, campesino and afro-Colombian communities from their territories, similar arguments were used by landowners in the north of Cauca depàrtment days before the Nilo massacre in December 1991. According to the confessions of paramilitary Hernando Villa Zapata, this massacre was planned in the La Emperatiz farm. Current government viceminister Maria Isabel Nieto says that this farm cannot be handed over to victims as it wouldn’t be administrated suitably, placing the victims rights to truth, justice and reparation far below those of big business.
We call on social organizations, democratic sectors, human rights organisms and the international community to denounce this threatened genocide which has already started over the last few years. We call on the national government to respond according to it’s constitutional obligations and international human and peoples’ rights agreements.
CONSEJO REGIONAL INDÍGENA DEL CAUCA -CRIC-(CAUCA INDIGENOUS COUNCIL)
Popayán, August 12 de 2008