On Feb. 17 the Agencia de Noticias Nueva Colombia (ANNCOL) published a Feb. 11 communiqué from the Antonio José de Sucre column of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) taking responsibility for the killing of eight people on Feb. 6 at Río Bravo, Barbacoas municipality in the southwestern department of Nariño. The communiqué charges that the eight victims had collaborated with the military and that due to “their responsibility in the death of numerous guerrilleros and their undeniable active participation which involves them in the conflict, they were executed.” The FARC didn’t specify the ethnicity of the victims but insisted that the “action was not against indigenous people.” The communiqué didn’t comment on any other recent killings of indigenous people attributed to the FARC in the same area. (ANNCOL, Feb. 17)
The Awá indigenous group has reported that the FARC killed a total of 27 Awá in two incidents in Nariño this month and detained at least three minors. As a result, Awá authorities say, some 400 indigenous people have fled their homes for the Nariño towns of Samaniego, Buenavista and Ricaurte. Indigenous groups say they follow a policy of not collaborating with any armed groups, including the military and the rebels. There are about 30,000 Awá living in Colombia and Ecuador.
Rightwing Colombian president Alvaro Uribe Vélez condemned the FARC’s actions, and leftist opposition senator Piedad Córdoba, who has helped arrange the release of prisoners held by the FARC, deplored the killings. (AFP, Feb. 17; La Jornada, Feb. 18) On Feb. 13 the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca (ACIN) wrote that the FARC, “by having carried out these atrocious acts, confirm a terrible truth: they have become one more element of terror against the peoples.” The ACIN also denounced the government, the media and many political parties, charging that they were trying to use the situation to convince indigenous people to “collaborate with the authorities, with the security forces.” (Servicio Informativo “alai-amlatino,” Feb. 13)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 22