Colombian indigenous: Among war, poverty and powerlessness

· Conflict, Latin America, Violence

Awa children - Photo ONIC

Awa children - Photo ONIC

Indigenous authorities of Colombia and Ecuador gave an ultimatum to Farc

A new strong condemnation to Farc rose this month after the communist guerrilla declared that some indigenous persons of the Awa communities have been executed because “they were spies of the army“.

Awa is the name of an ancestral people of the southwest of Colombia, near the boarder with Ecuador, in Nariño State. To know the level of development of the Awa people is easy: it is enough to know that this month they were victims of an authentic mass killing. The authorities and the army, willing to reach the place of the events, had to wait, because roads were in bad conditions and the guerrillas planted mines in the area. Short after Farc announced that the executions was done “not because they were indigenous, but because they were collaborators of the army” and, thus, “actors in the conflict.”

The announcement was, of course, an excellent element in the campaign of propaganda against Farc guerrillas, although it was forgotten very quickly that, for example, troops of the army killed last December Edwin Legarda, the husband of Aida Quilcue Vivas, top leader of the Indigenous Regional Council of Cauca (CRIC).

Ultimatum to Farc

Then the next drama: the corps of the killed indigenous still to be given by Farc to their original communities. The Awa people communicated this weekend through all the indigenous agencies of Colombia:

“To the FARC, they have until Monday 23rd of February, at 6PM, to give back to OUR INDIGENOUS AUTHORITIES the corps of our SACRIFICED BROTHERS, so we can give them back to the Mother Land as it is in our uses and traditions.”

They prevented that if Farc does not give back the corps, they will declared an International Humanitarian “Minga” (fight) for dignity and the search of the bodies, giving equal responsibility to Farc and government for the consequences. In doing that, they do not want the company of any official authority or the army.

The announcement is supported by ONIC, the National Organization for the Colombian Indigenous People and the indigenous people of Ecuador. They asked to the legal and illegal armed groups to leave the ancestral territories of the Awa people and said that international commissions from countries like Bolivia, Ecuador or Brazil, should be the only authorized to clear the lands from mines.

About the refuse to admit the company of the Colombian army, the indigenous authorities explained:

“We are worry because we see that the military and judicial authorities have not shown results in the search of the corps of our killed brothers. Not the government has facilitated the humanitarian space to attend the confined population and the orphans. At the other hand, they wanted to profit the misfortune in order to make that the indigenous authorities help them to follow the insurgent groups, making in this way to prevail the logic of the war before the humanitarian actions, the one that is the logic in this cases for the international law.”

Latin American indigenous answered the Awa call

The Awa call to join the “Minga”, a word that stands for “campaign or fight for rights”, has been quickly listen by other indigenous communities in other Latin American countries like Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, Peru and some regions of Central America, according to Oscar Ortiz, president of the Indigenous Unity of the Awa People.

He said in an interview to Caracol Radio, that if Farc does not give back the corps of the indigenous that were killed by the insurgents, they themselve will go through the jungle territory to look for them, without any security guarantee and giving responsability to both, government and Farc for the consequences. The Awa people wiould be joined by several other indigenous peoples from north to south and indigenous communities from other Latin American countries.

If Farc does not listen the indigenous ultimatum by Monday at 6PM, the indigenous communities will go ba land looking village by village in a terrain certainly difficul of the Pacific litoral jungle.

Three corps have been recovery last Saturday and brought to Tumaco for their identification.

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