Indigenous leaders in the southwest in Colombia on Friday suspended reconciliation talks with the government after the country’s ministers of interior and defense failed to attend the scheduled meeting.
“We have suspended the process,” the political adviser of indigenous rights group ACIN, Feliciano Valencia, told Spanish press agency EFE. “The ministers of Interior and Defense never arrived.”
Friday’s meeting was a follow-up meeting held between the indigenous leaders and Interior Minister Federico Renjifo earlier in the week.
Instead him going themselves, Renfijo and his defense colleague Juan Carlos Pinzon, sent their vice-ministers against the expectations of the indigenous.
Renfijo told W Radio to be “surprised” the indigenous suspended the meeting over his absence, claiming the vice-ministers were supposed to be leading talks with the ACIN and accused the indigenous of lacking “good intentions” to reconcile with the state.
Pinzon told journalists, “I never proposed or offered or was meant to be in the Cauca department” where the talks were supposed to be taking place.
The indigenous said the presence of the presidential adviser on regional affairs and the two vice-ministers was not enough as the officials “do not have the authority to take decisions, even though they said they do.”
“Although we did suspend the process, we are not ending it, because we continue to wait for a high-level commission, in which the ministers will be present.”
The meetings followed an indigenous uprising in Cauca sparked by ongoing combat between guerrillas and armed forces on indigenous territory, violations of human rights and a lack of access to health care and education.