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Monday, November 24, 2008

The Colombian Pyramids were made of Paper

(Translated by Steve Cagan, a CSN volunteer translator)

November 14, 2008

Antonio Morales Riveira
Bogotá, Colombia

More than an economic calamity, the financial tragedy of tens of thousands of Colombians who during the last few years handed their savings over to openly illegal money taking companies is a metaphor and a clear example of the general decomposition of Colombian society after 25 years of narco-traffic and the installation of a mafia culture at every level of social life.

The tip of the iceberg that has cropped up in recent days allows us to sense the dimension of the crookedness. The crisis broke out on November 12 when one of the many companies that takes in the monies refused to deliver to thousands of Colombians not only the dividends, but even the capital they had invested.

From north to south in the country went to the phantasmagorical company and found either closed offices or employees that could only argue that there was no money. Everything was in ruins! Crowds invaded the offices and sacked them. Some were burned. They confronted the anti-riot police. They created all kinds of disruptions, demanding the money that had been swindled from them. An innocent municipal people’s representative was murdered.

The reaction of the authorities was moderate and except for some cases of curfew in cities in the south of the country, at least public order seems to be under control. But not either the origins or the consequences of this enormous problem for society and the government.

It’s enough just to know the name of the “bankrupt” company that started the storm to understand the depth of the economic and social problem. The initials seem innocuous, D.R.F.E. But behind these letters is the synthesis of this very serious problem of social ethics (of the bandits who started up the business and of those who came into it), of anxiety, of necessity and of loss of the moral north star of broad sectors of the population.
Dinero Rápido Fácil y Efectivo [Easy Cash– Quick Money]. Thus the initials come apart. And such is the design and the destiny of a society well imbued with the necessity of getting rich or of an immediate profit that would assure subsistence, in a country with out of control unemployment and a social crisis that is ignored by a state that is only interested in war against the FARC.

Money: such is the symbol of the present, future and Mafioso past times of Colombia. Since the eighties, when narco-traffic broke out as a social sector of change in the face of a selfish—and in not a few cases equally criminal—traditional bourgeoisie, Colombian society traded its traditional values of effort, its work culture, for the sole determinant of money. The necessity for coin, powered by the advance of consumerism and in a third-world post-modernity but equally anxious about production and objects, Colombia went down the road of loss of values and saw the installation of a dynamic of necessities, often false or simply expanded by the media and advertising. Thus arose the assassins of Medellín, the paramilitaries, and narco-traffic was consolidated as the epitome of the nation. And headed by money, dollars, pesos or euros, as a collective obsession, as a social paradigm, and as a replacement for the cultural expressions that belong to a society that would be productive. And money, seen in this way, precisely could not be an element connected to productivity, but rather the acquisition of goods without effort, of luxuries and false idols of progress.

Easy: Within the dynamic of the accumulation of personal wealth in the general run of people, or of great capital among those who played at enriching themselves, easiness was the altar where the ritual of wealth was to be celebrated. That’s why the narcos were consecrated, those who obtained fortunes of hundreds of millions of dollars in three or four years, or the paramilitaries who robbed 50% of the productive lands, or the great octopus of the corrupt who repeatedly sacked the vaults of the nation.

For the general run of people, then the reading was conclusive: if they do it, if the leaders, the politicians, the industrial and commercial leaders (the accomplices of the narco-traffic, not a few money launderers) do it, Why not us? For two decades Colombian society has experienced the rhythm of this ease, which necessarily borders the criminal or at least the illegal. Swindle has been the order of the day, and it was in this conte3xt that the so-called “pyramids” arose that like in Egypt do not only have a structure of growth from the base, but that contain a supposed treasure.

So it was enough to foolishly believe in this myth of easiness and believe that it was possible, without there being anything fishy about it, that they would get as much as 75% interest on large or small investments. Easy: And of course, it wouldn’t be easy if there weren’t added to it the volatile particle of quickness. The Mafioso culture expresses it like that. Not only do you have to do easy business, but quick. The necessities of consumption, of power, have no room for waiting. And it was this that guaranteed the pyramids, an investment with immediate yields, held together with spit, impossible to sustain, the receivers of savings even wanted it like that.

Cash: in-kind, liquid, bills. Without the red tape of the banking system, of capitalism that entangles, that exercises usury. The people handed over their piles of bills that accumulated in the pyramidal vaults. Money, pure money, ready money like that of the mafiosos, like the piles of dollars of the FARC or the paras, of the capos and the warlords. A primary and volcanic vision of wealth, physical possession of paper money, the exaltation of having your pocket swollen. Colombian savers were directed by this mafia “culture” and that’s what they wanted.

Of course, behind this generalized moral perversion of swindlers and swindled there are objective reasons and not just subjective ones, like the influence of the mafia in the heart of the people. Tired of confronting a future without their necessities, tired of going along with a banking system of which they were not customers, but rather the banking system were customers of the exploited people, they opted for easiness, for quickness, and not for security in their investments. With usurious systems of interest and other harsh impositions, financial institutions were not depositories of faith, which was transferred directly to the gangsters of the pyramids. And of course we must not forget that the general conditions of the people with some ability to save are not better that those of the people who live in need.

Although the common denominator of the swindled was immediate enrichment, we must not ignore the fact that thousands of those persons were not even the owners of the invested money. The banks themselves or their friends had lent it to them. Many wanted security for their old age, university for their children, their health. And now, as the only recourse in thousands of cases, they can only approach the prosecutors to denounce the swindle and wait to see what happens.

The national government, headed by President Uribe, did nothing. They only allowed the pyramidal business grow within the greatest apathy. And now, incredibly shamelessly, they accept that preventive measures were not taken, and in a demagogic manner the create a list of the poorest in order to try to indemnify them. We must not forget that Uribe is not only at war and he dedicates the great part of the national budget to that, but that he is also in a campaign to be reelected a second time. There did not exist, nor does their exist, legislation to control the pyramids and Uribe is inventing warm water compresses to mitigate his enormous mediocrity.

The cases are not only individual. Some enterprises also got into the dance, such as the case of a club of the professional soccer league, Pasto, whose owners saw a billion pesos (500,000 dollars) go up in smoke in the pyramid.

So the robbery is pharaonic, monumental. The government will try to control the phenomenon, but still hundreds of pirate firms, money trappers, continue functioning and what is worse, the Colombians who go to them in many cases have not lost confidence. Because this confidence is a utopia, a dream, the delirium of becoming rich—or less poor—within a few days.

With the case of D.R.F.E. (600 billion pesos [300 million dollars] up in smoke), the problem has barely begun. New denunciations will come, new disturbances. And surely the faith in legal activities that has been lost will give an impulse to other forms of illegality. In two decades Colombian society built mafioso collective options. The current government is the clearest example of our moral dissolution. If it took us this long to deconstruct morality and assume the mafia credo, how long will it take to rebuild the fabric of ethics?


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

Film and television student arrested

( Translated by Stacey Schlau, a CSN volunteer translator)

Cristina Isabel Guzmán Martínez Arrested

I am Isabel Martínez Navarrete, mother of Cristina Isabel Guzmán Martínez, a student of film and television at the National University. She was arrested on Thursday, November 13, at 10 am, as she left our home, located in the Belén neighborhood, in the area of La Candelaria in Bogotá.
I want to declare that Cristina has no connections to any illegal organization whatsoever; she spends all her time studying and taking care of her young daughter, since she is a mother and head of household. Nevertheless, I don’t oppose her being investigated. What I cannot condone in any way are the illegal form, methods, and means being used to arbitrarily surveille and arrest people like Cristina.
 For several days, we had noticed movements of private cars and a taxi in the area, but we didn’t think it important enough to report, because we weren’t absolutely sure of being followed. On Wednesday November 12, at approximately 6:45 am, as Cristina left our home, she noticed a van parked on 6th Street at the intersection of highway 2 A, facing the entranceway to the house. She saw that they were filming her from the van, which has a blue cabin and the license plate BVA 399. Then on the cell phone she told me: “They’re following me.” And so they continued following until the moment when she got on a bus to go to the University, where she filed her first report. Then we made an appointment with a lawyer for Thursday at 10 am, to meet in order to fill out our respective complaints at the district attorney’s office, the Attorney General’s office, and other governmental agencies.
At 10 am on Thursday, we left precisely to inform the authorities about the anomalies we had witnessed. We were surprised when, coming to 6th Street at the intersection of highway 2 A, we saw a parked taxi cab with two people watching us. We continued walking, but when we opened the grating in order to go out onto the street, the two people who had been in the taxi cab got out and prevented us from continuing, saying that they had come to arrest my daughter. I was horrified because they were not an official patrol and they were two people (a man and a woman) dressed in civilian clothing, without identification and without a warrant for her arrest. Cristina told them that she would go with them but they would have to let her make a phone call. Meanwhile, I called a councilman on my cell phone. He answered and I asked for his help, because these were two people in civilian clothing with no warrant, in a taxi cab with license plate VHI 435. (During these moments, I remembered the disappeared young people of Soacha who appeared dead in Ocaña, and the disappearance and execution of the union leader Guillermo Rivera, who was arrested by uniformed police.) I began to shout at them that I did not agree with this arrest because this is how the young people of Soacha, who were tortured and killed in Ocaña, were taken and they would do the same thing to my daughter. The woman took out military identification and let me see her name--Magda Jazmín Pérez Tunjuano--but I still thought that in this country anybody can obtain a false document and I continued insisting in a loud voice and calling my neighbors, saying that they were civilians, that this was not legal, and that they were going to disappear Cristina.  I think that this is what really saved her, because when I entered my house I called an official from the Traffic Secretariat for the District. I gave him the license plate number of the taxi cab, and he answered that that car was not a taxi cab in Bogotá. Then I really became terrified that they had finally taken away my daughter, and I was told to ask for her in the SIJIN or police detention center of the Modelia neighborhood. I was only able to calm down when the lawyers found her in that place and it was established that the woman is a sargeant and the man who accompanied her has the last name of Jiménez.

Colombia is the only country in Latin America that does not need a military dictatorship to put in practice different illegal methods of arresting, torturing, disappearing, or executing its victims. This is, sadly, the “most stable and long-established democracy of Latin America.”
Bogotá D. C. November 15, 2008

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

Thursday, November 20, 2008


(Translated by Anne Schoeneborn, a CSN volunteer translator)

We cannot let the various acts being perpetrated against our community pass without speaking out. We know that this will permit the murderers to one day be judged for the terror that they are generating on a daily basis:

- Today, on November 16, 2008, around 8:30 am, the army entered the hamlet of La Union, a part of our community, and surrounded it. Members of the community approached the troops and asked them why they had come. They responded that they came to provide protection for a government commission that had come to remove families from La Esperanza. The community members told them that there were only families from the community living in La Esperanza, and that they would not be displaced. They then asked them to please leave. The troops relocated to the outlying areas and as they were leaving they said that this “damn community” is full of guerrillas and needs to be done away with no matter what.

A family from La Esperanza arrived in La Union and stated that a government commission had completed a census of the families in La Esperanza. Around 4:00 pm, the commission, headed by Accion Social* and accompanied by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, arrived in La Union. Community members demanded that the commission hand over the census results, and told them that they did not understand their reason for carrying out such a census. An argument ensued, and a representative from UNHCR told them that they had found malnourished children in La Esperanza, and that the community had concealed this fact. The community members responded by asking why they didn’t point out the cause of the malnutrition: the blockades established jointly by the paramilitaries and the army that prevented food from reaching the community, that ruined the harvest and the displaced civilians. This response caused the members of the commission to stop arguing, to hand over the census results, and to leave.

Families of the community remain in La Esperanza while six displaced families have left. Similarly, families of La Hoz and Rodozali have been displaced. It has been said that they have left due to battles between the Army and gangs, but this is incorrect. There have not been any clashes, and the paramilitaries and the armed forces remain in Playa Larga, Nueva Antioquia.

For eleven years we have dealt with malnutrition, assassinations, and displacements. However, we also live with dignity. We have not given into the paramilitary logic, and we are not leaving our lands. During those eleven years, we have created life and alternatives; no member of the community has died as a result of malnutrition, but rather, they have been assassinated by terrorist acts perpetrated by the armed forces, paramilitaries, and guerrillas. The children that have died were killed by the bullets of the army and the paramilitaries. We continue planting our fields and we are not concealing the truth. On the contrary, we have always told the truth and will continue to do so: we will not give in to the blockades or the displacements. These murderers know nothing of dignity, they judge hastily, they threaten us and distort the truth.

The living of life happens every day and, because of this, from San Josesito to la Union, la Esperanza, Mulatos, Resbaloza and Nain, life continues to flourish, and many people who have this sense of dignity continue on the path toward creating a different world.

November 16, 2008

* A social service organization created by the Office of the Presidency.

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

------ End of Forwarded Message

Posted By CSN to
CSN News at 11/18/2008 12:50:00 PM

New Army Commander General Oscar Pena and Human Rights

(Translated by Anne Schoeneborn, a CSN volunteer translator)

Medellin, IPC, 6/11/08

Non-governmental human rights organizations in Antioquia possess numerous registers of extrajudicial killings that occurred between December 2003 and October 2006, a period during which general Oscar Pena Gonzalez, new commander of the National Army, commanded the Fourth Brigade and the Seventh Division Brigade, both military garrisons headquartered in Medellín.

Pena Gonzalez commanded the Fourth Brigade from December 15, 2003 until July 16, 2005, after which he went on to lead the Seventh Division as its primary commander from August 16, 2005 until October 17, 2006. Dozens of extrajudicial executions were reported and documented during both periods. Their gravity was of such a magnitude that, in non-governmental reports about these atrocious crimes, military sources were quoted as saying, "the assertions are credible that not all the civilian casualties of the Fourth Brigade were armed men."

The situation became so complicated that in its 2004 report, the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights expressed concern about the extrajudicial executions and referred to the Fourth Brigade, commanded at that time by Pena Gonzalez, as the military garrison apparently responsible for the civilian deaths because accusations against some of its members had been increasing.

According to the non-governmental reports, the majority of these killings have occurred in eastern Antioquia, an area patrolled by troops of the following (all of which fall under the command of the Fourth Brigade of the National Army): Grupo de Caballeria Mecanizado N. 4 Juan del Corral, Batallon de Artilleria no. 4 Jorge Eduardo Sanchez, Batallon de Contraguerrilla N. 4 Granaderos, and Batallon de Plan Especial Energetico y Vial N. 4 BG. Jaime Polaina Puyo.

The Colombia-Europe-United States Coordination Group's Observatory of Human Rights, which analyzed the occurrence of extrajudicial executions throughout the country between August 2002 and July 2006, noted that Antioquia, with 183 killings, is one of the provinces most affected by extrajudicial executions committed by the Army.

This Observatory, consisting of nearly 199 non-governmental organizations, received reports of 74 cases (with 110 victims) of extrajudicial executions carried out by members of the Fourth Brigade of the National Army during the period from August 2002 until July 2006 in eastern Antioquia. During this period, the following operations were carried out: Operation Marcial Norte (2003), Operation Espartaco (2004), Operation Ejemplar (2005), and Operation Falange I (2006). These reports include cases which occurred in most of the different municipalities of eastern Antioquia, although a greater numbers of cases occurred in the Muncipalities of Cocorná, Granada and San Luis. One local human rights report stated that during Operation Espartaco, which was carried out by Batallon de Artilleria N. 4, at least 22 people were executed extrajudicially.

According to the profiles of the 110 victims reported by the Observatory, 98 were male, 12 were female (including one who was pregnant), 12 were adolescents between the ages of 15 and 17, 3 had a mental or physical disability, and the majority worked as agricultural laborers on their own, or on neighboring, plots of land.

The Liberty Legal Corporation is doing legal follow-up on 38 cases of extrajudicial executions that occurred between 2002 and 2006 in eastern Antioquia and that involved civilians presented in military reports as guerrillas killed in combat. Also, this organization has a register of 195 cases of extrajudicial executions that occurred during 2004 and 2005, 98 of which occurred in eastern Antioquia and 46 of which occurred in Valle de Aburra.

According to a report about the situation regarding human rights and international humanitarian law during 2005 in eastern Antioquia, which cites information about each municipal agent and non-governmental organization that works in the sub-region of the province, there were at least 25 cases of documented complaints of extrajudicial executions and acts of "social cleansing" attributed to the Army during that year. In several, the Army was also accused of tampering with the scene of the crime in order to simulate the combat scene.

Everything has been denied.

In spite of the evidence of extrajudicial executions in eastern Antioquia that has been repeatedly presented, the national government has rejected the veracity of these claims time and time again.

While in Cocorna, one of the municipalities most affected by these crimes, President Alvaro Uribe Velez stated, "since they move around in small groups and dress as civilians, every time one of them is killed, they accuse the Army and say it's an Army that murders, that instead of being combat casualties, they were killed outside of combat."

On that occasion, the head of state noted the importance of rigorously explaining each case of extrajudicial execution "to show before the district attorneys, before the national judiciary and before international critics, how those bandits are now dressing as civilians in an "operación pistola," and when they are killed, their comrades allege that they were killed outside of combat. We will clarify the situation with all the evidence to move forward in defense of our soldiers and police."

This presidential assessment was preceded by declarations made by the outgoing Commander of the Army, the now ex-General Mario Montoya Uribe. In statements made to the newspaper El Tiempo, published in the July 11, 2006 edition, he explained that this group of "irregulars" in his operational results had nothing to do with pressure on his subordinates.

Montoya Uribe went on to state that, "if this had been a generalized situation, then we could expect that the fact of asking for results would have led to this. However, the UN and other organizations say that there were 24 cases this year, and that those that happened last year added up to 40 people presented irregularly as combat casualties. I am not sure of the number of people. There are 29 investigations being carried out and, of these, five are in the civilian courts and 24 are in the military courts. The Commander of the Seventh Division (General Pena Gonzalez) indicates that this is the work of guerrillas committing subterfuge with the help of some NGOs."

One of the contrasts between the abundant documentation amassed by non-governmental organizations of extrajudicial executions committed during the time that General Oscar Pena Gonzalez held the post of Commander of the Fourth Brigade, and the Brigade's operational successes, is that in 2006 it was singled out as the most effective military unit, with the best results during the last five years. Also, it's one of the garrisons that opens the way for those that hope to make it to the command level of the military or the army, as this is this path that the generals Mario Montoya and Oscar Pena Gonzalez took.

Agencia de Prensa IPC
Medellin, Colombia

Posted By CSN to
CSN News at 11/18/2008 10:50:00 AM

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Humanitarian Crisis in the Guaviare

(Translated by Anne Schoeneborn, a CSN volunteer translator)


The Alternative Center for Research and the Protection of Fundamental Human Rights in Colombia, a non-governmental organization that works to defend human rights, granted us the permission to inform the national and international community about the following events which were recounted by those that experienced them in the rural area of Mata Bambú (in the municipality of Mapiripán and the State of Meta).
  • On September 2, 2008, members of the National Army entered Mata Bambú, which is under the jurisdiction of the Municipality of Mapiripán and the State of Meta, and gathered together all of its residents.  They identified themselves as members of the Joaquín Paris Battalion.

  • On the same day, the Marines entered the community.  Some National Army troops locked up various community members in their houses where they were physically and verbally abused.  After 20 minutes, they took all of the community members to the public restroom and refused to let them leave.  Among the soldiers was one with the last name Barrera.  After some time, the people were allowed to leave and they returned to their homes to find that they had been plundered.  Everything of value had been taken, including, in some cases, cash.

  • Some community members were brutally beaten by National Army troops in the Battalion Joaquín Paris, and many even had ropes tied around their necks and were threatened that they would be strangled if they did not say where the guerrillas could be found.

  • During the raid the Marines and the National Army perpetrated in Mata Bambú, they extrajudicially executed the peasant LUIS GERARDO VALENZUELA CAMACHO, 50 years of age, and widely known in the region as a hard-working, honest person who worked collaboratively and in solidarity with all community projects being implemented in the area.  

  • Various community members spoke with a Marine Major (he refused to identify himself), in charge of the area, who promised to investigate the incidents and to give an explanation at 10:00am the next morning regarding why their houses had been robbed.  However, his troops pulled out at dawn without giving the affected civilian population any explanation.

  • The following day, community members located Captain Sánchez of the Joaquín Paris Batallion, who listened to all of their complaints, and also promised to look into the matter, although to this day the affected civilians have not received any response.

  • Community members saw members of the Marines and the National Army take numerous gallons of gasoline from the house of Mr. Luis Gerardo Valenzuela Camacho, and then trade them for money or merchandise in the town.

  • During the incursion, the National Army and Marines treated the members of the community as “supporters of the guerrilla,” and used this fact to justify abusing them.

  • When a new group of National Army troops under the command of a Captain arrived, the community members complained about all that the others had done, and the response they received was: “ there are very bad people everywhere.”)  When they asked about Mr. Luis Gerardo Valenzuela Camacho, they were answered that there wasn’t anything they could do now because he is dead, that he was a guerilla and that they had found on him in possession of guns.  He proceeded to give them “permission” to call the family and tell them to make the necessary arrangements to pick up the body in San José del Guaviare.

The peasant population of the affected area is living under ever-worsening circumstances, and is experiencing intense abuse from the Army which, in the last two years, has caused a very high incidence of displacement.  Members of the community are currently without food and are fearful of leaving because they might encounter those that committed the incursion and all of the cruelties against the innocent population during the period of September 2-6.
Historically abandoned by the Colombian government, these remote communities suffer the consequences of a lack of resources allocated to education, health, infrastructure, and productive social, environmental and economic projects that are just and fair.  Since the conception of the poorly named “Democratic Security,” the entrance of Army troops in this region has caused a worsening of the conflict and of the humanitarian crisis.  Today, more than ever, a governmental presence is needed that, beyond simply establishing a military presence, recognizes the civilian population as having rights, and supports projects geared toward the improvement of the quality of life of the peasant and indigenous peoples that occupy the territory.  
We wish to remind the Colombian Government that:
ü    The Colombian Political Constitution of 1991 establishes a wide gamut of rights, and turns over institutional responsibilities to the executive as the principle guarantor of those rights, and under which the Army is subject to the orders of the civilian government
As has always been demonstrated, the policy of “Democratic Security” works to increase the abuse of the institutional mechanisms in place, and encourages actions that violate human rights.  Also, it increases the involvement of civilians in the armed conflict by creating webs of informants and by paying those providing information aimed at prosecuting social leaders who encourage people to demand their rights. This phenomenon has been exacerbated in the case of some peasant communities because President Uribe Vélez himself has, with the hope of resolving conflicts, ordered that informants be compensated.
Finally, we urge that the national government, in unity with the bodies of state control and UN human rights agencies, convene a high-level meeting with social organizations as soon as possible to discuss what the armed conflict means for peasant and indigenous communities.  The goal is to find paths that lead toward a solution to the crisis or, at least, toward a minimization of the risk and anguish experienced by peasant, indigenous, afro-Colombian, and urban communities in the region.


·    That the recommendations be carried out immediately regarding the respect of and compliance with Human Rights Legislation passed by the United Nations, the OAS, and other international organizations.
·    That it stop the repressive measures and the fear-tactics to which the peasant communities of Guaviare are being subjected by the regular and irregular forces of the Colombian government.
·    That the National Army be investigated for the extrajudicial execution of Mr. Luis Gerardo Valenzuela Camacho and others, and if guilt is established, that these crimes against humanity be taken as far as the international courts


·    That it stop the repressive measures and the fear-tactics to which the peasant communities in the remote regions of the State of Guaviare by the Army of the Colombian government.
·    That it guarantee the right to life, personal security, physical and psychological integrity, personal and familial privacy, respect, and free movement of peasants in the region, especially now that they are being affected by the illegal and arbitrary action of the Colombian Army.


·    That it fulfill its role of ensuring that human rights are respected. That it guarantee the right to life, personal security, physical and psychological integrity, personal and familial privacy, respect, and free movement of peasants in the region, especially now that they are being affected by the illegal and arbitrary action of the regular and irregular forces of the Colombian government.   


·    As part of its mandate, that it does all it can to ensure the Colombian government act in accordance to internal and external norms which it has agreed to respect and that they initiate all necessary investigations


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, November 04, 2008

Reasons to continue the Popular Minga

Sent by ACIN and  En-camino
November 3, 2008- From ACIN;
This is the latest communique put out by the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca regarding the continuation of the Minga.
Reasons to continue the Popular Minga against the Free Trade Agreement and against the So-called "embejucados"

On Sunday, one of the most insulting aspects of the so-called public encounter between the Government and the Popular Minga in La Maria, Piendamo, Cauca was the condescending attitude the government showed towards its counterparts, the indigenous interlocutors. This attitude was evident in every issue that was discussed in the debate. The President repeatedly asked his ministers to read aloud parts of the laws and of the free trade agreements that are in question. In essence, he was calling us ignorant, "you don't even read what is contained therein. Pay attention, you insipient and inferior beings, so that you understand."

The government did not learn its lesson from that one Sunday night in 2005, when the public referendum on the FTA was concluding, and 98% of the voters said "NO" to the accord. At the time, the Minister of Agriculture called the ACIN to see if he could talk on our radio station. According to him, he had failed to explain the details of the treaty to the people, and that "dark forces" were behind the popular referendum that had just rejected the accord.

The response that the leadership gave back then is valid today. In an attempt to "explain to us", the government expresses racism and arrogance. They assume that we are inferior, and therefore, are incapable of understanding these issues for ourselves. This is why they supposedly need to explain things to us. Well, we need to remind them that the Constitution of 1886 has been replaced, and we are not "insipient beings". We, the indigenous people, understand quite well. Don't treat us like minors.

In the face of "dark forces"' there was (and is) an ongoing threat. The pretext. Those who would oppose the government are "terrorists" and therefore, should be treated with repression. You are either ignorant, or a terrorist, or you should be on bended knee. These are the options they leave you.

To illustrate clearly that when it comes to the FTA, there is no need for such an arrogant or a threatening position to take towards us, we invite you to read this text, where we review all the concrete reasons that explain clearly why we are opposed to the free trade agreement. These are reasons not only relevant to indigenous communities, but presented by the indigenous communities for all the people and the entire citizenry. Please read:

But furthermore, there is something even more perverse than the condescension, the racism, and the threats. It's the fact that the President actually said "We all need to desembejucarnos" (or calm down). The so-called "Campesinos embejucados de Colombia ," (The Extremely Angry Peasants of Colombia ) made public a racist threat against us on August 11, 2008. This perverse missive of terror, that announced the death of PaHECES (in a derogatory reference to the name Paez, the Spanish term for Nasa) starting at midnight that same day, is the source of this specific term: embejucados.

The President never renounced this text. He never announced that those who wrote the missive should be investigated. He never suggested that the embejucado author of this text should be prosecuted and brought to justice. He never acknowledged that since its release in August, at least four indigenous activists have been assassinated by dark forces in northern Cauca alone. Nevertheless, on Sunday, in front of over 3,000 threatened members of the community, he used this term in such a relaxed and open way, the same term that signs the racist sentence of extermination against indigenous peoples.

It's either a mental lapse, or it is a reiteration. Regardless, the President has made clear where these threats come from, and who are the embejucados. Read for yourselves this threat, and decide whether or not this comment is just a slip from the embejucado president of Colombia.

It's a serious matter from which the actual President could be investigated and judged for threats of genocide against the Nasa people. Read for yourselves and respond: Would you have said the same things he said, inviting us all to "desembejucarnos"? http://www.nasaacin.org/noticias.htm

The Decision to Continue and a Call to Action from the Minga

After the encounter in La María, Piendamo between the Minga Popular and President Alvaro Uribe Velez, where it became abundantly clear the profound contradictions of thought between the life plans of the people and the death plans led by the government, the community that had gathered there decided to continue walking their word towards Bogota, the capital.

On Monday, November 3rd, representatives of all the regional indigenous organizations, as well as some members of various social organizations, met to evaluate the way the Minga has gone up to now, and which way to proceed. The overall objective now is to get everybody together for the Primary Constituent Congress, to listen, share ideas, reflect, with one another, in cities and towns throughout Colombia . And along the way, we will meticulously pick up all the pains and the proposals of various social and popular sectors, in order to begin to build a movement of popular unity, as the first step to achieve a truly participant dialogue of the people and their processes throughout this country.

So therefore, this week, the coordination of all these processes will take place, much like what was done in July 2007 when we organized the national visits in our campaign that we called "The Country We Want", which took us to Armenia, Ibague and Bogota. At the same time, this march towards Bogotá will give us an opportunity to share the truth to the public about what occurred in La Maria Piendamó, and about our political and organizational process, because we are not terrorists. We are common people who work and struggle for the defense of life and our territory. This we are obligated to do because of the constant disinformation of the mass media, which don't reflect the realities of the many processes of peaceful resistance in the country.

Next Sunday, we will concentrate in the University of Valle in the city of Cali, in order to begin our march on Monday, November 10th, to walk our Word alongside all those Colombians who still believe that it is possible to begin to construct another World: a World of people without owners. That same day, step by step, we will commemorate the 24th anniversary of the assassination of the Nasa priest Alvaro Ulcue Chocue, killed in Santander de Quilichao, for the sole reason of trying to wake up the conscience of his indigenous brothers and sisters and oppose the domination of the large landowners of Cauca .



(Translated by Dan Baird, a CSN volunteer translator)

by: Win~ay Mallki (Fredy Romeiro Chikangana)
Yanakuna writer and poet

We, the Yanakuna Mitmakuna (Yanakona) of the Colombian Massif are on the march with  our brothers -  the Nasa, the Kokonuko, the Misak Eperara –  raising   our voices against the many outrages suffered by  our people.  
    We are Kechuas men and women, children of the Tapukus.  Of us it is said,  “We are the underground beings who collect the water  that springs up to Mother Earth”, “We are those who work together  in the time of profound night”, “We are those who sing to Father Sun  and to  Father Kuichi because they shaped our beginnings”.  Our situation is a painful one and now it has been sharpened  by  the war that grips the country.
    In these earthen bodies  we bear  the marks  of years of anxiety and desperation,  created  by  policies of impoverishment that have scarred this land of Macizo, a land  where political maneuvering  and government policies have  a mocked  the needs of our people.
    From the depths of the earth we bring traces of the great ones of our own history:  the spirit of the great  Lord Kakaoña, whom the the Spaniards  called “The  Lord of Power”; the spirit  the Inca Lord of  Salazar, lord of all the Yanakuna land; and the spirit of  the Lord of  Pancitara, tireless warrior of the Massif.  
    They speak to us of the wide lands that truly belong to us, lands now  reduced by impositions without number until we are confined in places that cannot be cultivated, compelling us to a silent migration in which  our problems multiply  –  problems that are social, political,economic.  Now our territory is narrow, mere strips of land where people cannot live or maintain their families in dignity.
    Anger and the powerlessnes are etched on our faces, because we know this has been a land of war ever since the Conquest . Since then have come, in all times, armed groups   practising violence and committing  atrocities.  We know  that in our own time the armed forces, on the pretext of protecting democracy, occupy part of our ancestral land, the place where are born  the main rivers of Colombia and the  sacred springs of our lakes.  The soldiers have forced us to live in anxiety and anguish. They ill-treat our people.  Our youth are condemned by them for their long hair, for using the sacred coca leaf, for defending their land, for their resistance to  armed occupation, and  for resistance to  the pollution of Mother Earth and  of our water springs.

    By this water we take up the struggle of our ancestors for the defence of Mother Earth in the Massif.  For this, we march with our Kechuan steps, with our coloured symbols:  of La Wipala, of  Kuichiyana and of  Tawa Chaka-Hana.  

    We say to Colombia and to the world that in the heart of the Colombian Massif there are people with dignity - men, women and children, peasants and black  and indigenous people – who refuse to be dominated by a new colonial regime. This is a regime that would rule in the interests of multinational companies, companies  that would, with Government complicity,seize  possession of our ancestral waters and of the resources essential  for our existence as a civilisation going back thousand of years.
    For this reason, we reject all the plans intended to destroy us. We say no to programmes that communities are not consulted on. We say no to the plan for the waters, no the statute for rural development, and no to the plan for the uplands.  We say no to the occupation of indigenous land by armed groups, whoever they are.
    We demand respect for our indigenous authorities and for our own police.  We demand respect for our young people.  We demand compliance and respect for national and international
rules of behaviour.
    And thus, with this written  on skin, we continue to march, raising our voices and displaying the symbols of resistence that derive from  indigenous memory.  We do this so that the country and the world can read of our situation, the   same unjust situation in which all  Colombian people live.


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



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