Colombia Reports’ personality of the year, indigenous governor Cristina Bautista, is no longer with us. Her spirit, however, continues to inspire.
Bautista was murdered by alleged FARC dissidents in her community’s reserve in the southwestern Cauca province on October 29, a day after she urged her community not to stay quiet about the ongoing genocide of native Colombians.
If we stay quiet they kill us and if we talk too. So, let’s talk.
Bautista was silenced the next day, but her words have been echoing throughout Colombia since then and have fueled social protests in opposition to the violence that took her life.
Half a year before she and four indigenous guards were massacred, the leader of the Nasa nation traveled to the United Nations in New York and in tears begged attention for the plight of native Colombians, and indigenous women in particular.
I would like to bring to light the current situation of the indigenous people in Colombia, the killing of indigenous leaders, the repression of social protest. Instead of helping, the peace deal has increased war and the exploitation of sacred territories in Colombia… In the current situation, in almost all indigenous nations as women we have been working to find a better future for our families. I don’t want more women from the countryside to continue living under these circumstances. We need opportunities for indigenous women to participate in politics, in the economy, in society and in culture. Today gives me true strength, to see all these women here and that I am not alone.
Bautista’s cry for help achieved absolutely nothing; dozens of indigenous leaders were killed between her trip to the United States and her fatal encounter with the FARC dissidents without any authority lifting a finger.
Her last words, to the contrary, are engraved in the minds of many and have strengthened the resistance against violence and oppression that will not stop until peace in Colombia is achieved.