Colombia: indigenous march against violence in Cauca

In a minga (popular mobilization) called in response to growing violence on their territories, some 10,000 indigenous residents of Colombia’s Cauca department marched 140 kilometers between the towns of Santander de Quilichao and Corinto July 23-4. On July 19, Corinto was the scene of a clash between FARC guerillas and government forces in which three local residents were killed and 17 wounded. Jorge Arias of the Association of Indigenous Cabildos of North Cauca (ACIN) told the crowd in Corinto at the march’s end: “We come here to honor the memory of our dead, and to say to the armed groups, legal and illegal, enough with all this violence!” (El Tiempo, Bogotá, July 24)

The cabildo (traditional governor) of the community of Jambaló said there is a “social and humanitarian emergency” on Cauca’s indigenous territories, and reiterated his demand that the guerillas and army alike respect the declared wish of the indigenous reserves not to be involved in the armed conflict. (El País, Calí, July 25)

The official statement announcing the march, ACIN demanded the “harmonization” of Cxab Wala Kiwe, the Nasa indigenous name for their territory (meaning Land of the great People). It condemned abuses committed by the FARC, “Public Force” (official security forces) and paramilitaries. The statement also protested the June 23 slaying of Marino Mestizo, one of the traditional leaders of Jambaló, by unknown masked gunmen. (ACIN, July 22 via Enlace Indígena; EFE, June 23)

As the march took place, the FARC were accused of killing three Embera indigenous people in Antioquia department, in the north of the country.

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