Addressing calls from the indigenous community to remove the military bases in their communities, Cely explained that the indigenous people were victims of the leftist guerrilla group FARC‘s violence and the Armed Forces are there to protect them.
“We have asked the indigenous communities that they fix a position [against the FARC] because we need them to, with respect to these terrorists that are attacking them on all sides, in addition they are victims of recruitment, the use of their territories for narco-trafficking… we are not occupying forces nor their enemy.”
Cely ignored indigenous peoples’ request to leave, saying that there will not be “one centimeter” where the Armed Forces will not be because their “task is a constitutional task of the defense of the life of the Colombians and the indigenous who are not excluded from that citizenship.”
The UN declaration on Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples states that no military bases may be installed without “effective consultation” with the authorities and communities of indigenous peoples.
With the arrival of more than 1,200 troops in the area, “the government has violated the Constitution,” the indigenous say, stating that the additional troops are “useless to protect the civilian population.”
The high mountain battalion has set up bases in Toribio, Corinto, Caldono, Jambalo, and the small villages of Siberia and Mondomo in response to the recent slew of attacks on those cities. The Armed Forces hopes to stop the FARC attacks in the department of Cauca and arrest the heads of the FARC’s 6th Front that is operating in the region.