October 1, 2020

Indigenous leader warns of the criminalization of landowners against their peoples

The indigenous peoples of the world are being victims of "criminalization" by large landowners who have "extractive policies", warned Thursday the leader of the zenú people of Colombia and a member of the Permanent Forum for the Issues of Indigenous Peoples of the UN, Darío Mejía.

Mejía, who participates in the Forum on Climate Change in the Colombian city of Montería (north), blamed the increasing indication of indigenous peoples to "extractive policies in the territories."

Mejía said that "criminalization is presented in different ways, with imprisonment, with stigmatization, with accusations or in the Colombian case with murder, either individually or collectively."


The goal of this violence, for the spokesman, is to eliminate both the leaders and the civilian population of the indigenous communities and "decimate" the mobilization capacity of their peoples, not only from Colombia but also globally.

The actors that drive this phenomenon are actors "of the ruling class or landowners with extractive projects", but who cannot be recognized or pointed out because they are not under any focus and work through "structures parallel to the state or with the connivance of the public force. "

The activist also argued that when indigenous peoples "cannot be physically exterminated, they are subjected" and noted that violence is used as a form of "deterrence and conquest" in the face of "extractive projects in the territories."

Mejía also focused on the announcement of Colombian President Iván Duque to send 2,500 soldiers to the department of Cauca (southwest) and said that militarization "wherever it comes from" has the same purpose: "territorial and population control ".

He stressed that "one cannot fight fire with gasoline", because "finally, the purpose of one and the other is the same."

El Cauca is involved in a wave of violence against indigenous people that last week claimed the lives of seven of them and six others, crimes attributed by the Ministry of Defense to FARC dissidents.


The Zen leader also charged against the "disguised policy" of President Duque, for promoting a kind of favorable discourse with indigenous ethnic groups but "later making decisions such as the militarization of indigenous territories when there is a humanitarian crisis."

Although he acknowledged that the Colombian State has made progress in recent times in recognizing the diversity of these communities, he indicated that it is in a moment of "transition" where public policies to support these populations have to be strengthened.

Mejía, who is also part of the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) co-organizer of the forum together with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), lamented that although Colombian law recognizes indigenous populations, "it has not been passed the facts".


Even so, the activist argued that "not all people in the government want to end their rights," but those who have "sensitivity" to these communities are not at the center of power decisions.

In addition, Mejía emphasized that the cause of violence in regions such as Cauca is "poverty, non-compliance with the implementation of the peace agreement and the lack of political and social dialogue."

In this regard, he lamented the "lack of structural solutions to the problems of education, housing, access to basic services" and warned that "if these alternatives are not presented comprehensively by the State, regions such as Cauca will continue to be a breeding ground for violence and the arrival of drug trafficking. "

. (tagsToTranslate) Indigenous leader (t) (t) criminalization (t) landowners (t) villages

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