This week saw an upsurge of violence between indigenous Colombians in
Cauca and riot police. Many didn’t see the violence coming and have
not been able to get a good idea why the natives are so angry and what they
demand. Therefore we publish the opinion of the indigenous. A list of
proposals to move forward.
What we are proposing today was already presented to the public in September 2004, when we organized the First Indigenous and Popular Congress.
They are five basic points that cover many other issues. We have
listened with considerable attention to the voices of many diverse
sectors within Colombia and throughout the world. We have clearly put
forward what it is that hurts us, and have compiled the accumulated
pain of many peoples and processes. We want to be practical and
People who occupy important positions of authority in this country – an
authority they have surrendered as a result of their actions and words
– have come out publicly to say we are terrorists. Absurdly, they
accuse us of attacking the Armed Forces, the largest and most powerful
Army of all of Latin America, the greatest recipient of U.S. military
technology and training, one that launched a military assault combining
the force of the Army and the Police, with tanks and armed soldiers,
firing live ammunition against men, women and children who have nothing
but wooden staffs and stones. They injure more than sixty Indians, the
majority with bullets. They assassinate at least two civilians, and
mistreat common men and women of the communities. They burned houses,
and committed acts of unquestionable brutality, destroying medical and
first aid equipment and damaging food supplies, acting like criminals
under the order of the Executive.
Nevertheless, when we detained and protected one member of the police
force, and we returned him safe and sound to the authorities, a
government minister called us “terrorists.” We don’t have the right,
according to him, to detain those same police who are shooting at us
trying to kill us. According to him, we only have the right to let them
kill us, to mistreat us with obedience to the politics of terror of the
regime. According to the President, who gave the order for the brutal
attack against us, his government has complied with everything related
to the indigenous communities. From his perspective, we are savages, we
are dumb, we are irrational. Mr. President, not only have you not
fulfilled your obligations to the people, but there are several other
fundamental issues that we are raising that you can no longer ignore.
We are not liars, we are not savages, we are not irrational.
The government says we are being manipulated by “dark forces,” that
FARC has infiltrated our organization and movement. We state through
our actions that we are not terrorists, that we are not with the
insurgency, that our struggle is legitimate, it is autonomous, and that
we do not act under the orders of FARC or any other so-called “dark
forces.” We have unmasked a professional soldier who had infiltrated
us, sent by the public security forces in an attempt to validate these
lies of the President. If there are Indians involved in the insurgency,
or any other armed group, it is a personal decision of theirs that goes
against our organizational and community process. Stop shooting, stop
robbing, stop burning and lying. Stop using your public power to
exercise terror against the people. You’re wrong. Respect and listen.
It is the only way.
The majority of the members of Congress that support the government of
President Uribe, those legislators who have elaborated and approved the
laws that displace us of our rights and our liberties, occupy their
official spaces with the backing of paramilitary groups, and are
involved in the Para-politics scandal currently under investigation.
Neither they nor the laws they have approved have any degree of
It is time for us to reiterate our position to the rest of the world.
We direct ourselves to all peoples and leaders. We come to you as a
result of our struggle, and with the meaning of peoples and processes.
With humility we recognize that we don’t hold the universal truth. But
with pride we defend our reality. Up to now we haven’t even been
listened to. Is it that there is so much fear about what we have to say
that we are prevented from even being heard? Listening to us with
attention and respect will generate what it is we are looking for: a
frank, and sincere dialogue that will lead to concrete consequences and
profound transformations. To refuse to listen to us, to call us liars,
to say we are manipulated by “dark forces,” to say that we don’t have
any proposals, is to fear dialogue, to fear change, to fear the future.
We believe that we are correct. We have thought this through carefully.
We have questioned our own goals and options. We have observed and
discussed a lot. What we are proposing here as an agenda is what we
have come to agreement on amongst ourselves, because we believe in
diversity, in open debate, in differences, and there are differences
amongst us. We will continue discussing, and constructing in a constant
dialogue, because we know that there is not only one truth.
La Minga of the People that commemorates 516 years of
oppression and resistance is a concrete message. So that people will
listen to us, so that people stop trying to kill us and displace us, we
have come out, we have blocked roadways, we march. And we will continue
to do so until our word is respected, and through the course of
dialogue we can transform this reality of misery and horror into one of
equilibrium, harmony and liberty. It’s not so difficult to understand:
Either our proposals are seriously considered in order to construct an
agenda of change, or Mother Earth will be forever in a process of
extermination. To do otherwise is to accept the destruction of life.
This we cannot accept, we cannot let this happen.
We act with precise urgency. We risk our lives and offer our lives for
life. We struggle with all our capacity against the sophisticated
propaganda that is nothing more than well-crafted lies, against laws
and measures that impose the interests of others against life itself
and justice. We call on therefore, on the wisdom, the serenity and the
respect that comes with dialogue. We love and defend dialogue. But we
do so mobilized with firmness. We are people of our word and of
dialogue. We live it through our assemblies, and within our Life Plans.
Everything that we have created is based on a process of dialogue
between contradictions and differences. We therefore need and call on
an interlocutor who is legitimate, with whom we can dialogue. And we
are totally committed to engage in this process.
What is it that we are proposing?
the necessary conditions for a process of dialogue are immediately
established, in order to discuss the five main points of the agenda
that we propose
the dialogue is carried out under the watch and with the backing of
legitimate and unquestionably credible persons, and with authority that
is recognized in any part of the world
in this dialogue, every sector of society is represented, according to
democratic mechanisms of participation, giving priority to the majority
of the population that has been excluded, marginalized and exploited
honesty, truth and respect become non-negotiable conditions for the
development of this dialogue, and those that violate these principles
are excluded from participating in the process.
Main Issues for the Agenda of Dialogue
These themes encompass many other issues that can fit within each
agenda point. We present these more as chapters of the dialogue,
whereby each sector involved in the dialogue can have input on the
specific issues and points that should be discussed. We recognize that
this is simply the beginning of a longer process of listening,
absorbing, analyzing and ordering a detailed agenda for the urgent
transformations that are necessary. The agenda should not be one of
exclusion. All the issues and points of all the people should be
considered. The agenda that we propose is the following:
reject the Economic Model of global transnational capital and the Free
Trade Agreements strategies that have been negotiated with the United
States, Canada and the European nations. These treaties are part of a
nefarious strategy on the part of major global economic powers. The
process of negotiation and the results of these agreements are a threat
to our cultures and our territories, our sovereignty. They surrender
our collective resources to corporate interests and trans-nationals,
and directly threaten our Mother Earth. These are not treaties between
people but against people;
No more war, no more terror; we reject the government’s so-called
“Democratic Security Strategy,” Plan Colombia, the dirty war,
para-politics, he militarization of society and the criminalization of
popular protest. We call on truth, justice and reparations for the
crimes committed against the people. War is not the answer. And those
people who have committed crimes against the people, such as former
Cauca governor Juan José Chaux Mosquera, should be judged so that their
bad examples will never again be repeated and the victims will be
to the Constitutional Counter-reforms and legislation of displacement
that has been implemented under the current government, measures that
surrender our rights to private interests, and that submit us to
silence and forced labor, to exclusion and ultimately death.
the observance and strict abidance to the agreements and obligations
that guarantee the rights and freedoms of all people such as the ILO
agreement 169, the UN Declaration on Human Rights of Indigenous peoples and others.
creation of mechanisms of sovereignty, peace and coexistence in order
to develop and make reality our agenda through a permanent Congress of
Which Way Forward?
- Public security forces must retreat from all indigenous territories for a
definitive time. The territory of Peace, Coexistence and Dialogue
in La Maria, Piendamo should be respected and immediately evacuated.
All the damage caused by the military aggression of the last few
days should be repaired in an integral way
- There should be an immediate cease fire, and an end to the repression against the people mobilized there
demand that all armed actors leave our territories immediately, and
call for the establishment of territories free of war, with civilian,
international observers allowed in to monitor the situation, under the
supervision of the Indigenous Guard of the Nasa people
popular, non-commercial media should be recognized, respected, listened
to and supported as sources of truth for the unfolding dialogue. The
mass commercial media should be opened up in order to transmit the
positions and the proposals of the people, of the excluded voices, of
the majority, and they should make public the truth of the repression
and exclusion that we have faced, and not simply represent the
perspectives of certain economic interests.
immediately call on the following people to serve as guarantors of the
dialogue (without excluding other possible individuals from the
- James Anaya, UN Special Relator for Indigenous People
- Baltasar Garzón, internationally-recognized Judge, Center for Peace of Toldeo
- Evo Morales Ayma, President of Bolivia
- Blanca Chancoso, indigenous leader from Ecuador
In Colombia, we are seeing an indigenous and popular uprising that is
on the march. They can, through all the force of terror and propaganda,
try to silence us once again. But we will rise up again, and we will
continue in Minga until the will of the people is fulfilled.
Minga de los Pueblos
Territory of Diálogue, Coexistence and Peace
La María, Piendamó
October 16, 2008.
The text was sent to us by U.S. NGO Colombia Support Network