Hundreds of indigenous Colombians gathered since this Friday in Toribío, a town in the troubled department of Cauca, in the southwest of the country, to defend their autonomy from violence by various illegal armed groups.
The meeting, called "Weaving resistance for life" and will run until tomorrow, was convened by the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC) as a demonstration of support for the indigenous guard and with the aim of preserving "territorial harmony" .
The indigenous guards are made up of adults from that community who help the native population to control and monitor their territories to promote the defense of rights and carry the "chonta", a baton that gives them their authority.
The central square of Toribío was the meeting point of the communities that arrived from different corners of Cauca doing a walk to follow "the footsteps of our ancestors".
During the tour, the Indians flew red and green flags of the CRIC, as well as batons that in some cases served as a base to spread white flags with those that demand peace in their territories.
With a party atmosphere created with drum rhythms and other musical instruments, the natives arrived at the central square for an extensive day that includes "songs to life" and meetings both spiritual and cultural.
José Oimar Tenorio, coordinator of an indigenous guard of Cauca, told Efe that with this meeting they want the community to lead a "life in harmony", because it has been affected by the constant attacks on the communities in this department that houses the largest number of indigenous Guambianos in the country.
"We have had to live the conflict again, today the armed groups are killing us for territorial control," said Tenorio, who explained that this region of the country suffers from the constant confrontation to control drug trafficking and mining, in some cases legal and In others illegal.
"Half of Cauca is in mining concessions to get gold, emerald and all kinds of minerals (…) that we consider is a risk for us because the territory is a natural wealth that we have as indigenous peoples that does not mean pesos but life" stressed Tenorio.
El Cauca, along with Nariño, bordering with Ecuador, and Norte de Santander, bordering with Venezuela, is one of the departments that has the largest number of hectares planted with coca in the country.
The leader was also worried about the frequent attacks by illegal armed groups such as the FARC, the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas and criminal gangs.
Faced with this grim picture, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights was pronounced last Monday, who asked the authorities for "an effective fight" against the killing of indigenous people in Cauca, since in September and what is going on October have registered nine cases.
"They are months where we have been made strong signaling, strong persecutions and murders of our partners … we believe that today we are at high risk, the tranquility and the life of each of the communities we inhabit," he said. indigenous leader
In Tenorio's opinion, these attacks are due to the abandonment of the State, which he blames for the precarious situation of the indigenous people, since he affirms that in Cauca there has been no "social investment" and the health, education and sanitation needs are notorious , among other.
In addition, this has led to the community becoming the target of armed groups seeking to swell their ranks, as the leader states that once again his children are being recruited.
"Since 2018, when these armed groups begin to regroup, the issue of recruitment of minors begins again … today we see that before they were taken to the bad ones and today they have been taken with false promises. recruitment is quite intense, "he concluded.
(tagsToTranslate) Indigenous (t) Colombians (t) armed forces (t) violence (t)