“When the military, the police and the [neo]paramilitaries leave Cauca, when they end their war against the indigenous, peasants, miners and the people in general, we won’t have any problem with leaving too,” announced Rodrido Londoño Echeverri, alias “Timochenko”, according to local media.
The Association of Indigenous Councils in Northern Cauca (ACIN) asked the FARC to abandon their territory in the southwestern department, which has been a longstanding haven for guerrilla activity.
Cauca has been a hotbed of violence in recent weeks. Fighting involving the guerrilla group, state forces and the indigenous population, who are protesting government and FARC presence in the autonomous region, forced thousands from their homes.
On July 11, some 400 indigenous occupied a military base near the embattled town of Toribio to protest increase military presence in the region. This occurred the same day President Juan Manuel Santos visited the town to announce a new security strategy aimed at tackling FARC activity in Cauca. Police reclaimed the base July 17 resulting in one death and the injury of 23 others.
Government officials and indigenous leaders met Monday to discuss ongoing violence in the region. ACIN issued a list of demands during the meeting which included the removal of state security forces from territory belonging to the Nasa indigenous tribe.