Representatives of Colombia’s indigenous Wiwa community, based in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, met last weekend to discuss the increasing risk posed by illegal armed groups active in the area, and to appeal to the government for protection against the conflict, reported Colombian media on Tuesday.
The meeting was held in the northern city of Riohacha and attended by various community leaders from the Wiwa towns of Guamaka, Wachirimake, Wikumake, Korual, Gomake, El Limon and Abuwimake.
A statement released after the meeting said “We are declaring to the world the state of tension in which we find ourselves today. Again we raise our collective voice to reiterate our ancient principle; we, the Wiwa, cannot participate in conflict in any way.”
The community appealed to the state for the “best possible protection for our rights as native people and for our good name, which are now vulnerable.”
Although the government has officially guaranteed the security of Wiwa territories, a document released last week shows that the Wiwa populations in La Sierra, El Cesar, and La Guaijira continue to face threats from illegal groups fighting for control of the region.