President Ivan Duque is not considering the demand of native Colombian authorities to meet, despite their claims that violence against indigenous has turned into genocide, Colombia’s interior minister said Monday.
Indigenous authorities throughout Colombia declared a humanitarian emergency after an increase in attacks on native Colombians, particularly in the southwest of the country.
In the last month alone, six native Colombians have been murdered, 15 survived assassination attempts and communities received as many as 30 death threats, primarily in the troubled Cauca province.
Interior Minister Nancy Patricia Gutierrez said on Monday morning she will travel to Cauca to meet to indigenous authorities, but said that the president is not considering getting involved.
The president has categorically refused with indigenous representatives, despite the deadly violence that, according to indigenous organization ONIC, left 158 indigenous leaders dead since a peace deal with FARC guerrillas in 2016.
The majority of the murders, 94 of them, took place after Duque took office in August last year.
According to Gutierrez, Duque will not take charge of the crisis or meet with indigenous leaders. First, she and other officials will “evaluate the panorama,” she said Monday.
The truth is that for now we must know clearly is what the situation is, have a diagnosis on their part, although the Ombudsman’s Office has made some alerts.
Interior Minister Nancy Patricia Gutierrez
In fact, Ombudsman Carlos Negret issued at least 19 formal alerts about the situation in the Pacific region, but to no effect, he told the Constitutional Court last month.
Cauca governor Oscar Rodrigo Campo told Caracol Radio said that the military has been withdrawing troops from the area, despite the “serious crisis” in 14 municipalities in the north of his province.
“Before there were 4,000 troops, now there are about 2,000,” said Campo.
Campo will join Gutierrez, representatives of the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Ombudsman’s Office in the meeting with the indigenous authorities, who have insisted they want to talk to the president.
If Duque does not want to come to the debate, we will continue to wait, but we will also press by other means, we will look for other alternatives. There will be no debate with government delegations.
Indigenous leader Hermes Pete