Colombian Indigenous People Call for Solidarity During Protests Against State Repression and Policies

FROM THE EDITORS: Colombia is living a historical period of social resistance and struggle against Ivan Duque’s government which began with a national strike on May 1st to oppose tax reform. Street protests have been met with increased violence and so far there are at least 23 dead and 35 people missing, hundreds injured. Although Duque went back on the tax reform, protesters are increasingly upset by the militarization of their towns and cities, economic crisis exacerbated by the pandemic, right-wing policies, and a failure to implement an end to the conflict signed in 2016. Below we reproduce a call from the Pastos and Quillasingas indigenous peoples, located on the southern border of Colombia, one of many indigenous organizations in Colombia that details many of the broken promises and demands to the central government, to better understand the context behind these protests.

Photo: ONIC, Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia

SOURCE: CONCIP, Comisión Nacional de Comunicación Indígena, via tweet on May 3rd.

For Life, Territory, and Survival. All to the Minga!
May 2, 2021

The indigenous Communities of the Pastos Pueblo represented by authorities, which are distributed in 17 southern municipalities of the Department of Nariño and 8 Authorities of the Quillasinga Indigenous People located in 5 Municipalities in the central region of Nariño, by mandate and in joint decision with the Base Communities, Indigenous Guards, Council Associations, Indigenous Women’s Organizations, Indigenous Agricultural Organizations, Indigenous Educators Organizations, Youth Centers, Indigenous University Councils, and accompanied by Organizations Peasant Women from the Agricultural Sector, Public Transport and Heavy Cargo Guilds, Merchants from the Southern Border of Nariño. After Long Minga Days of Thought and Joint Assemblies, we’ve decided to Continue the National Strike and Mobilize our communities as a matter of fact, starting at 05:00 am on Tuesday, May 4, 2021.

To the public opinion, the National Government, National and International Organizations that defend Human Rights and, in general, to the Colombian Citizens:

We declare that:

  1. President Iván Duque’s announcement to withdraw the tax reform bill is not a guarantee that there won’t be a new attempt by the National Government to implement a new text and we understand this announcement as an action that simply seeks to demobilize the Colombian people.
  2. Colombia is experiencing a social outbreak in a context of multiple crises; in the streets, Colombian citizens have manifested themselves through cultural, ethnic, and generational diversity. The peoples, organizations, and individuals have expressed during these last four days our indignation against the reality that oppresses us, and these peaceful expressions have been brutally repressed by the State police forces, causing the death of nine marchers to date, a countless number of injured, and people arbitrarily detained.
  3. Since the beginning of the mandate of Iván Duque, the deaths, threats and displacement of our communities have increased. They have ignored problems associated with different factors such as the defense of the territory by illegal and extractivist activities such as drug trafficking, the reestablishment of glyphosate fumigation, legal and illegal mining, and the lack of a comprehensive policy that guarantees sustainability and economic well-being for campesino and indigenous families living in these territories, the lack of labor, education, quality health assurances, etc.
  4. The best way to restore the economy is to end government corruption in the hands of the executive, legislative and judicial branches; strengthen democracy and participatory politics.

We reject:

  1. The violation of rights through different policies that threaten the lives, dignity and freedom of the Colombian people and mother earth. The policy of death and systematic persecution of social and indigenous leaders.
  2. The poisoning of our territories with glyphosate spraying, fracking and mining that affects our seeds, biodiversity, food security and sovereignty, water sources and therefore human health and life.
  3. The perverse reforms that are currently underway in Congress, such as Bill 010 Senate-425 Chamber to reform Colombia’s health system, turning the intermediation of the health business into a true monopoly.
  4. The excessive increase in fuel rates and tolls for private cars, passenger, cargo and parcel transport services in the Department of Nariño, reflected today in price increases of services, family basket produce, which essentially affects the entire Colombian population, increasing hunger and poverty in the most vulnerable sectors.
  5. The incessant attempts to regulate the right to Prior Consultation to try to undermine the fundamental, collective, and individual rights of indigenous peoples.
  6. The systematic failure to comply with the end of conflict final agreement and the construction of a stable and lasting peace.

We demand:

  1. The presence of the President of the Republic in the territory of the Pastos and Quillasingas Peoples with their ministers for the immediate installation of a roundtable for dialogue and agreement within the framework of the Permanent Regional Roundtable for the Integral Development of the Pastos and Quillasingas Peoples (Decree 2194 of 2013).
  2. Definitive withdrawal of the Tax Reform and the resignation of Mr. Alberto Carrasquilla Barrera, Minister of Finance and Public Credit.
  3. Give up any attempt to regulate the fundamental right to prior consultation.
  4. Repeal decree 380 of 2021 that allows the reactivation of spraying with glyphosate in the territories.
  5. Immediate withdrawal of bill 010 Senate 425 Chamber that reforms the health system in Colombia.
  6. Compliance with agreements and commitments made with the different social sectors, especially with the country’s indigenous communities, such as CONPES Agropecuario 3811 of 2014, the agreement route established in 2019 by the Government of Iván Duque within the framework of the Permanent Regional Roundtable for Coordination and the strengthening of the dairy sector of the Department of Nariño.
  7. Enforcement of the ruling of the tutela # 2019-270500 of the superior court of the judicial district of Bogotá and STP 1841-2020 of the Supreme Court of Justice in favor of the Pastos and Quillasingas Peoples, which gives the National Land Agency ANT a deadline towards the formalization of territories and endowment of properties with acquisitions.
  8. The implementation of effective policies agreed with the indigenous and peasant communities to recover the Agricultural Sector and the Rural Economy.
  9. The immediate opening of the border with Ecuador.
  10. The reduction in the price of fuel and the non-implementation of an additional toll on the Pasto-Ipiales-Rumichaca section.
  11. Respect for autonomous legal processes carried out by the partner MALLAMAS EPS-I  authorities before the Ministry of the Interior, urgent request for the General Manager’s registration and immediate response to appeals filed with the MALLAMAS EPS-I board of directors.
  12. Respect for prior consultation for the Indigenous Reservation of Ipiales related to the Pasto-Rumichaca highway project in the Rosal de San Juan-Rumichaca stretch of road.
  13. Fully comply with the end of conflict final agreement and the construction of a stable and lasting peace.
  14. Among other demands that will be debated and widely analyzed within the framework of the installation of the session of the Regional Round Table.

Through our thoughts, feelings and actions we weave resilience and resistance as indigenous peoples, developing capacities to overcome current adversity with proposals built from the grassroots, thus with integrity:

We convene:

  1. All indigenous communities of the Department of Nariño, peasant communities, working class and popular and the entire population of Nariño to settle on the national roads in the different assembly points on the date and time indicated in accordance with the instruction of our Indigenous Authorities.
  2. That, during these mobilization days, we continue to take care of ourselves through the proper use of masks, constant hand disinfection and physical distancing, to safeguard our health, and finally.

We hold responsible:

  1. President Iván Duque for each contagion registered in the framework of these just social mobilizations, since his bad leadership and policies force us to concentrate on the streets.
  2. To the National, Departmental and Local Governments for any attempt to repress the peaceful mobilization undertaken by the communities.

In the great territory of the Pastos and Quillasingas, May 2, 2021.
“Territories of Dialogue, Peace and Coexistence!

  • Indigenous Authorities of Pastos and Quillasingas.
  • Movement of Indigenous Authorities of Colombia, AICO.
  • Indigenous Authorities of Colombia AICO ” For the Pacha Mama “
  • Association Councils and / or Indigenous Authorities of Astopastos, Shaquiñan, Inti Quilla, ACIZI.
  • Unions and other social sectors of the Department of Nariño.