62.7% of Colombia’s indigenous population is at risk of extinction, according to statistics provided by the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia to a major Colombian news outlet.
Of the 102 indigenous communities in Colombia, 66 are reportedly under grave threat, from forces such as large-scale mining development and Colombia’s ongoing armed conflict.
Currently, Colombia is home to approximately 1,420,000 indigenous peoples. If actions are not taken soon, however, an estimated 890,000 indigenous Colombians could vanish in the coming years.
The figures clarify a decision made by Colombia’s Constitutional Court earlier this week, ruling that the government has not done enough to protect its indigenous population, after a 2004 decision by the same court ordered additional measures to be taken.
The Court held that efforts made over the previous decade to improve security for indigenous peoples have been ineffective and insufficient.
Indigenous communities, it concluded, are continuously victimized by armed groups forcing them off of their land, and endemic health problems caused by the industrial destruction of their native territories.
In Colombia, much of the indigenous population lives in autonomous territories set aside by the national Consitution. These nominally sovereign communities have historically absorbed the brunt of the Colombia’s long-standing armed conflict, which plays out primarily in isolated rural ares, and its aggressive mining policy, which has led to mass deforestation and poisoned many air and water supplies with toxic bi-products such as sulfur and cyanide.
ONIC has organized the first-ever Indigenous Copa America, set to take place in Colombia in the spring of 2014, to draw attention to the ongoing issues community leaders claim are responsible for the the destruction of traditional cultures and indigenous populations throughout the country.
The Santos administration claims it has invested nearly $546 million in initiatives aimed at supporting Colombia’s indigenous population, but the Constitutional Court ruling asserts that government action has been slow and inefficient.
- Hay 890 mil indigenas en riesgo de extincion (El Espectador)