At least 22 injured in southwest Colombia after ‘narcos’ attack indigenous counternarcotics operation

(Image: Cauca Regional Indigenous Council)

“Narcos” shot and injured an indigenous governor and at least 21 others who were removing coca from their reserve in southwest Colombia on Thursday, according to local authorities.

In response to the attack, native Colombians from indigenous reserve La Laguna in Caldono, Cauca, detained five alleged members of an illegal armed group, Senator Feliciano Valencia tweeted.

Within an hour, indigenous authorities from the region said that 31 people were injured and that 10 alleged members of the illegal armed group were detained by indigenous guards.

“They shot the governor”

The alleged narcos attacked the native Colombians from the Laguna reserve while the locals were eradicating the coca that was planted without their consent.

Please, reporters, help us so the ambulances and healthcare workers arrive quickly. They shot the governor of Caldono. Please, several people are injured.

Resident of the Laguna Siberia reserve

After the attack, community leaders called for a “massive mobilization” of native Colombians from the northern Cauca region.

“We are in the process of eradicating coca… but we need more people now. They are attacking us,” one member taking part in the eradicating operation warned neighboring communities.

Caldono is experiencing seriously tense moments after the decision of the authorities to send more than 2,000 guards to carry out territorial control and eradicate coca crops.

Senator Feliciano Valencia

The extermination continues

The attack on the native Colombians that injured the indigenous governor comes two days after the assassination of another native Colombian leader, Sandra Liliana Peña, in the same reserve.

Sandra Liliana Peña

Peña’s father told Spanish news agency EFE on Wednesday that “the mafiosi” assassinated his daughter in cold blood.

The native Colombians’ decision to embark on a massive coca eradication offensive was a response to the assassination of their leader, indigenous authorities said.

Violence spirals out of control

Native Colombian communities have been confronted with escalating violence during a peace process that began after demobilized FARC guerrillas signed a peace deal with former President Juan Manuel Santos in 2016.

Instead of the national authorities, illegal armed groups assumed control over former FARC territory.

Particularly in Cauca, the state’s failure to provide public security escalated violent attacks against Indigenous authorities who did step up efforts to increase security and protect their communities from attacks by illegal armed groups and drug traffickers.

Since the beginning of the peace process, more than 240 native Colombian leaders have been assassinated in the southwestern province alone.

The violence escalated even further after far-right President Ivan Duque, who refuses to meet with indigenous authorities, took office in 2018.

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