Colombia: UN calls for dialogue with indigenous movement

The UN representative for indigenous rights, James Anaya, called on the Colombian government Aug. 9 to advance in dialogues with the indigenous movement in southwestern Cauca department that has been calling for the military to leave its territory. In a message commemorating the International Day of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Anaya highlighted “the rights of property and autonomy the indigenous peoples have over their own traditional territories,” while stressing that the Colombian state needed to consult the indigenous movements before establishing military presence on their territories. Anaya emphasized that “the presence of the army should not contribute to putting the indigenous in danger.”

Colombian Interior Minister Federico Renjifo arrived in Cauca that day to try to facilitate a renewed dialogue, following indigenous leaders’ demands for cabinet ministers to be present. Talks were suspended in late July when both Renjifo and Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón failed to attend a scheduled meeting.  (Colombia Reports, Aug. 9)