from Weekly News Update on the Americas


On Aug. 4, a group of more than 500 organized indigenous Colombians from the municipalities of Jambalo, Caloto, Toribio and Caldono in Cauca department began occupying the Zulema estate in Caloto in what they call a process of “recovery and liberation of mother earth.” On Aug. 6, the mayor and municipal procurator of Caloto arrived at the estate and tried to persuade the indigenous community to go into town for talks on the situation; the community responded that the talks could happen on the estate. Later in the day, agents of the National Police arrived and stayed for several hours. On Aug. 8, three truckloads of agents from the notoriously brutal Mobile Anti-Riot Squad (ESMAD) of the National Police arrived and set up camp at the nearby El Japio estate, which was occupied last Oct. 12 by a group of Nasa indigenous people. [It is not clear whether the Nasa communities are continuing to occupy El Japio estate]. (Messages from Nietos de Manuel Quintin LameAug. 4, 10, both via Colombia Indymedia)


On July 24, a group of 10 displaced families seized La Victoria estate in Silvania municipality, Cundinamarca department, to demand they be resettled there. The Colombian Rural Development Institute (INCODER), a government agency, had resettled the families on the Los Colorados estate in nearby Jerusalen municipality on June 10, 2005, but the families consider Los Colorados inadequate because of the poor quality of the soil and the absence of drinkable water in the area. INCODER has taken possession of La Victoria for the resettlement of displaced families, but has refused to grant it to the families from Los Colorados. The families hope their occupation of La Victoria will pressure INCODER to let them stay. The mayor of Silvania has ordered them removed by force. (Message from Desplazados, July 26 on Colombia Indymedia)


In Florida municipality, Valle del Cauca department, on Aug. 4 a group of hooded armed men forced 64-year-old Rosa Tulia Poscue Ortiz from the vehicle in which she was traveling in the Triunfo Cristal Paez [Nasa] indigenous reservation. Hours later she was found stabbed to death. On Aug. 6, an unidentified armed group stopped 67-year-old campesino Jose Olmedo Pillimue as he was driving a bus from Villa Pinzon, on the same reservation, toward the town center of Florida. The assailants killed Olmedo with three bullets to the head. The army has also been carrying out bombings on the reservation. (Message from Indigenous Authorities of Florida Municipality, Aug. 9 via Colombia Indymedia)

Luis Evelis Andrade, director of the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), said that 32 indigenous people were murdered in Colombia in the first six months of 2006. In the same period, 28 indigenous people were forcibly disappeared, 5,731 were displaced by violence from their ancestral territories, 33,000 properties belonging to their communities were attacked by armed groups, and more than 63,000 indigenous people were trapped within their own territories, stranded by combat or paramilitary blockades. (Prensa Latina, Aug. 9)


At 5 AM on Aug. 9, International Indigenous People’s Day, five hooded armed men arrived in the rural village of Altaquer, in Barbacoas municipality, in the southwestern Colombian department of Nariño. Selecting their victims from a list, the paramilitaries abducted five Awa indigenous people from the homes where they were sleeping, took them outside the village, made them lie face down on the ground and executed each of them with a bullet to the head. The victims were Jairo Ortiz and teacher Adelaida Ortiz, both from the Las Vegas indigenous reservation; Marlene Pai and Mauricio Urbano, both from the Chagui reservation of Chambuza; and Jesus Moran, a former council member and former indigenous governor. They were among a group of some 1,350 indigenous people who had taken refuge in Altaquer and Ricaurte after being forced to flee their reservations in Narino on July 11 due to military operations in the area. The National Police and the Colombian Army have permanent posts in Altaquer and Ricaurte. (Coordinador Nacional Agrario, Aug. 9)

Later on Aug. 9, indigenous former congressional deputy Gerardo Jumi asked the United Nations to spearhead an investigation into the possible participation of Colombian government forces in the massacre. Jumi told the press that state security forces control the area where the massacre took place, and that the paramilitary group that killed the five Awa accused them of being supporters of the leftist guerrillas. (Prensa Latina, Aug. 9)


On Aug. 2 in the Serrania de Perijá region of the northern Colombian department of La Guajira, indigenous Wiwa campesino Roman Vega Nieves disappeared after heading out from his home in the Loma del Potrero community to go work on a nearby farm, La Mina. On Aug. 3, a day after his wife reported his disappearance, the National Army’s Juan Jose Rondon Mechanized Cavalry Group 2 reported that a “terrorist” from the Marlon Ortiz unit of the 59th Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) had been killed in combat on Aug. 3 at a site known as La Mosca camp, in the municipality of Jagua del Pilar. Witnesses said they had seen armed men with military uniforms take Vega away, and on Aug. 4 Vega’s wife identified her husband in photos as the man who was allegedly killed in combat. He had been dressed in an olive green t-shirt and was buried as “no name.” At least nine Wiwa community members have been killed in similar circumstances since July 2004. (Actualidad Etnica, Aug. 4 via Colombia Indymedia; Article by Adriana Matamoros Insignares, Aug. 4 via Colombia Indymedia)

In another recent incident, a hired killer shot to death Wayuu indigenous street vendor Martin Edgardo Galvan Arpushana in the center of Riohacha, capital of La Guajira. Galvan tried to escape, but the killer followed him into a nearby business and finished him off before fleeing on a waiting motorcycle driven by an accomplice. (Guajira Grafica, Riohacha, July 5-20, via Colombia Indymedi)

Representatives of the Catholic Church meanwhile are blaming a blockade by paramilitary groups for the death of 17 indigenous children from hunger and tuberculosis in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region of northern Colombia. The paramilitary groups are not allowing food or medicines to enter the region. (Vanguardia Liberal, Juy 29 via Colombia Indymedia)

Weekly News Update on the Americas, Aug. 13


On July 7 in Bogota, Colombia, two agents of the Metropolitan Police arbitrarily detained and physically abused and tortured 14-year-old Duvier Daniel Villazon Pinto. Villazon is the son of Kankuamo indigenous leader Imer Villazon Arias, who had come to Bogota from his native Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region to carry out efforts on behalf of his community, displaced by violence.

The attack against the younger Villazon took place in the afternoon as he was talking with a friend in the Santa Lucia neighborhood. The agents handcuffed the boy to their motorcycle and dragged him at high speed for several blocks. When they stopped, and Villazon tried to look at the motorcycle’s license plate number, the agents got angry and repeated the torture. One agent also hit Villazon repeatedly on the head with his helmet. Eventually the agents took Villazon to the local police station (Immediate Attention Center, CAI), where he was released without charges. Three months earlier, when Villazon was in a store in the Gustavo Restrepo neighborhood of Bogota, agents from the neighborhood CAI had held a gun to his head and forced him to leave. (Corporacion Juridica Humanidad Vigente, July 17 via

The Kankuamo people have been active in protesting the presence of military troops and bases on their reservation in the Sierra Nevada region of Santa Marta, in violation of their indigenous autonomy. They are also demanding the right to make decisions about large-scale development projects in the region, such as a planned hydroelectric dam in Besotes. (Adital, July 2)


On July 23, two hired killers traveling in a taxi shot to death union activist Jorge Guillen Leal at his home in the Coviba neighborhood of Barrancabermeja, in the northeastern Colombian department of Santander. Guillen had worked for the past 10 years at the Fertilizantes de Colombia S.A. company and was a member of the Sintrainquigas union, which represents workers in the chemical, agrochemical, gas and related industries. He served on the union’s governing board until last year.


On July 19, in the Catatumbo region of Norte de Santander department, troops from the Colombian army’s Mobile Brigade No. 15 murdered campesino Luis Angarita in the rural community of El Limon, Teorama municipality. Residents say the army killed the young man as he was on his way to work as a laborer on a nearby farm. The troops then dressed Angarita in camouflage and displayed him as a “subversive” killed in combat, although there is no rebel presence in El Limon. In a similar incident last June 5, army troops murdered campesinos Jose Guver Lopez and Jose Ortiz and presented them as leftist rebels killed in combat. The community has protested the killings and other human rights abuses committed by the Colombian army in the region, including numerous arbitrary detentions. (Asociacion Campesina del Catatumbo, July 26 via Colombia Indymedia)


On July 12, more than 2,000 people–some 700 families–displaced by violence from various parts of Colombia began a protest encampment in the central park of Bosa, one of 20 localities within the capital, Bogota, to protest the government’s failure to address their basic needs. On July 20, with no response to their demands, five of the displaced people buried themselves up to their necks in front of the Bosa mayor’s office. On July 15, police agents tried to break up the encampment and disperse the protesters; several people were injured. Police tried again to break up the protest on July 26. (Periodico El Turbion, published by Movimiento por la Defensa de los Derechos del Pueblo-MODEP, July 23 via Servicio Prensa Rural; Message from Desplazados posted July 26 on Colombia Indymedia)

Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 30


Weekly News Update on the Americas

See also:

WW4 REPORT #124, August 2006

“Colombia: UN sees crisis for indigenous peoples,”
WW4 REPORT, Aug. 24


Reprinted by WORLD WAR 4 REPORT, Sept. 1, 2006
Reprinting permissible with attribution