Colombia’s defense minister said Thursday the Constitutional Court’s decision to order armed forces to leave indigenous territories in southeastern Colombia will not affect military presence in the volatile southwestern Cauca department.
“We respect the decisions of the court and we abide by them, although we will [ask] the court to revise the themes,” said Juan Carlos Pinzon.
The minister said the decision “did not set a precedent” for the armed forces to do the same in Cauca, where indigenous movements have demanded the exit of armed forces and left-wing guerrillas alike.
On Thursday morning, the court ruled military bases located in “ancestral indigenous territory” in the southeastern Meta and Guaviare departments “violated the fundamental rights of its members.” Specifically, it ruled that armed conflict and displacement threatened to endanger the continued existence of the communities.
Luis Evelio Andrade, a representative of the Indigenous Organization of Colombia, told newspaper El Tiempo the court decision was a “special situation” that could not be “generalized or applied to other parts of the national territory,” while asking the defense minister to continue the dialogue with indigenous organizations in matters of security.
The Cauca, Meta and Guaviare departments have long been highly affected by fighting between government forces, left-wing rebel groups and paramilitaries.