The investigative arm of Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office, the CTI, will first look into an indigenous attack on the military in Colombia’s troubled Cauca region, in which more than 1,000 indigenous protesters allegedly expelled 200 army soldiers from the town of Toribio in a violent manner.
“As president of all Colombians, I categorically reject this attitude and make an impassioned plea for the end of hostilities,” Santos said. “We will not accept attacks on the troops who defend us. Everything has its limits.”
Both Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon and a spokeswoman for the Pluricultural Organization of Colombian Indigenous Peoples made comments recently claiming the FARC had influenced the ongoing protests.
Other Indigenous leaders have denied FARC infiltration in their movement–they say they want to see both the Colombian government and the FARC, whose violent clashes in recent weeks have forced nearly 600 residents from their homes, leave Cauca entirely. In the attack on the Toribio military base, protesters said troop presence there put their lives at risk.
Santos has repeated his willingness to begin talks with indigenous protesters, but said the army would not leave the area. Fifteen CTI researchers protected by police forces will conduct the investigation, the group’s director said. CTI’s chief of investigations and the Colombian minister of defense will oversee it.
Colombia’s Prosecutor General, Eduardo Montealegre, said Wednesday a commission from the Prosecutor General’s Office would travel to the southwestern department of Cauca to investigate the recent protests.
“The constitution of ’91 is very clear in signaling the right to social protest and to not criminalize it,” said Montealegre in an interview with Colombia’s W Radio, while stressing he did not want to pass a judgment on the protests.