A representative group of the Kofán travelled from their lands in Putumayo to Colombia’s capital Bogotá to celebrate the special protection of the rainforest where they live. During the celebration the Kofán took advantage of the media attention to read a statement in which they claim the government is constructing an army base on what they consider holy ground and vital for the gathering of their medicinal herbs.According to the Kofán, the army has occupied a farm called Finca Maravales, three kilometers from the city La Hormiga in the Guamués valley in Putumayo. “This farm is Kofán ancestral territory and is part of the Shelter of Santa Rosa Guamués,” the indigenous say. the claim the territory was invaded in the 1960’s.When over two years ago they learned the army was planning of building a permanent base there, the indigenous called in the help of several NGOs.These NGOs have now requested teh OAS to implement protective measures for the what the Kofán consider holy ground.According to the Kofán the presence of the army has disturbed their peace and the construction work has polluted the nearby river, so it’s impossible for them to catch fish.The army claims their presence on the farm is necessary, because it is strategic territory to fight the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. They claim it’s an important corridor for the FARC to provide its eastern Bloc with arms and use the territory to move drugs.The 193 hectare farm was officially bought by the Ministry of Defense in September 2006, colonel Nelson Camacho Rojas tells the newspaper. The eight hectares the Kofán consider holy ground will not be used, he added.The Kofán now demand detailed plans by Foreign Minister Fernando Araújo to be certain the environmental impact on their grounds is properly researched and their holy ground won’t be desecrated.
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