Squatters Attacked by Colombian Army

marksimonbrown mark at tlio.org.uk
Fri Nov 18 17:15:42 GMT 2005


Project "Freedom for Mother Earth" was started this year on October 
12th, when indigenous communities occupied idle farms in Cauca, 
southwest Colombia, accusing the far-right government of breaking 
promises to provide them with land. The State responded by refusing 
to negotiate until they leave and for over a week now have been 
attacking the occupied El Japio farm with hundreds of troops and at 
least ten tanks. 16 year-old Belisario Camallo Guetoto was killed on 
November 10th and many more have been wounded and arrested. 
Solidarity emails have been called for to help prevent further 
violent attacks.

12th October is traditionally celebrated in Colombia as "Columbus 
Day," but has been renamed "Day of Indigenous Resistance" by social 
movements across the continent. This year there were massive 
mobilisations across the country against President Uribe and his 
proposed "Free Trade" agreements, and solidarity actions also 
happened internationally, including a picket in London. Naomi Klein 
recently wrote about the Cauca indigenous communities (who reject 
both sides of Colombia's long-running civil war), describing the 
land occupations and how they are protected by the Indigenous Guard, 
who "patrol their territory armed only with sticks."

see also: Report: Tanks used against Indigenous communities in El 
Japio   -Ref: www.colombiasolidarity.org.uk/index.php?

Police continue attack on Indigenous communities in Cauca, while 
land occupation
16 November 2005 
Ref: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2005/11/327901.html

Twelve indigenous people from the Nasa community were released 
yesterday evening following the ninth attempt by the police to force 
halt the occupation of the "El Japio" farm in Cauca, Colombia. 

The police have also prevented ambulances and medical attention from 
reaching people who had been injured during previous attacks by 
police. Following the sound of gunfire at about midday, the police 
announced that the guerrilla were active in the area and had 
ambushed a police patrol (this claim is still unconfirmed), and that 
the "counter-guerrilla" troops from the army would be called in to 
remove the indigenous communities from El Japio. 

On 15 November, President Uribe and Governor Chaux elaborated their 
plan to "disactivate" the land occupations in Cauca, but the police 
continued with their arrests and beatings. On 14 November, tanks had 
been used by the riot police in the eighth attempt to displace the 
indigenous communities, resulting in the injury of a young man Jose 
Yonda, who lost an eye. This despite assurances from the Ministry of 
the Interior that Indigenous authorities would be invited to a 
meeting with the President on 17 November to try and find a solution 
to the land crisis. 

During the sixth attempt to move the communities, riot police shot 
and killed Belisario Camayo Huetoto, 16 years old, and seriously 
injured 32 others, including Gerson Menza who was shot by the police 
who then tried to cover up what had happened. While the tanks and 
riot police, following the orders of landowners, tried to displace 
the communities from El Japio, another indigenous community, the 
Misak, occupied the "Corazon" farm in Piendamo. The governor of 
Cauca responded by organising a "protest" of 20 peasant farmers who 
blocked the main road in "defence of private property" and against 
indigenous occupations. At the same time, 100s of landless peasant 
farmers and indigenous people who had been displaced by the 
construction of the Salvajina dam, united to occupy the farms of "La 
Sierra, La Marqueza" and "La Bonanza". 

Indigenous people injured in Caloto and Paletará by anti-riot 

25 people injured in El Japio and 12 injured in Pisochago.
Natives still resist in the occupied lands.

2000 riot police and army units are currently outside of a land 
occupation held by 500 people, mostly poor indigenous families, in 
Caloto, Cauca, in Colombia. Over the past few days, 1 person has 
been killed and 37 people have been injured by police beatings and 
bullets. The situation is tense and they are calling for solidarity 
emails, letter-writing and publicity because they are worried that 
without this the police and army will attack.

Guambianos, Kokonuko y Nasa indigenes, as well as thousands of 
peasants that are demanding land, have occupied haciendas (a 
hacienda is a huge piece of rural property) in several parts of 
Cauca since the 12th of October.

They are protesting because the INCODER (Colombian Institute for 
Rural Development) is not given funds or legal power to achieve 
rural reform, neither in Cauca nor in the rest of the country.

Indigenous people have occupied the Miraflores farm in Corinto, two 
pieces of land in Gabriel López (municipality of Totoró); Los 
Remedios in Silvia; El Japio, where seven indigenous people were 
injured when the ESMAD (mobile anti-riot squad) attacked them on 19 
of October; the farms Fátima, Santa Teresa, San Ignacio and La Selva
in the town of Popayán; Pisochago, Achaquío, El Acuario and Los 
Rincones in the town of Puracé, and the farm Ambaló where 13 
Guambianos were wounded by the police.

During the eviction of Miraflores, troups wounded Belisario Tombé, 
who was hit by a bullet in the arm, and Isaías Vallejo ; riot cops 
wounded three indigenous people from Kisgó in Los Remedios as well.

The peasants that had occupied Miraflores reached a compromise with 
the governor of Cauca, but the latter declared that "one doesn't 
negotiate with indigenous people" and was promoting a demonstration 
against the Guambianos on the 18th of October, this demonstration 
was attended by 5 land owners and 500 inhabitants of the town.

The minister of agriculture, Andrés Felipe Arias, the main person 
responsible for the immobility of the state with regard to the 
agrarian reform, declared that the government was not going to 
negotiate either.

On the 19th of October, the police made a coordinated attack against 
the Nasa people in El Japio, wounding 25 of them, and against the 
Coconucos, 12 of whom where wounded.

Even by using tear gas and force, the authorities failed to evict 
the natives.

Colombia Solidarity Campaign adds: 

Please send urgent messages to the Colombian authorities (sample 
message below), protesting the police violence against the peaceful 
land occupations, and expressing support for the indigenous and 
peasant farmer communities who are carrying out this urgently needed 
land reform. 

President Uribe:  auribe at presidencia.gov.co 
Vice President Santos:  fsantos at presidencia.gov.co 
Colombian Embassy in the UK:  mail at colombianembassy.co.uk 

Dear Sir I am writing to express my outrage at the violent tactics 
used by the Colombian police and army in their repeated attempts to 
displace the indigenous communities from El Japio and surrounding 
areas of Cauca. One person has already been killed by the police and 
many more injured, some seriously. I urge the Colombian authorities 
to fully investigate this violence and to bring to justice those 
officials and military personnel that are responsible for this death 
and injury. I further urge you to stop all detentions of the 
indigenous community in El Japio, bearing in mind their just 
struggle for a dignified existence, that the Colombian government 
has repeatedly refused to provide. Furthermore, it is absolutely 
unacceptable that the police have been preventing ambulances and 
medical attention from reaching those injured by the attacks from 
the police. 

Of particular worry, is suggestions from the police in El Japio, 
that the indigenous communities are somehow linked to the guerrilla, 
and that the notorious counter- guerrilla units of the Colombian 
army will be sent to dislodge the communities from the land. I urge 
the Colombian government to cease immediately, all violent attempts 
to move the indigenous communities, and to negotiate with the people 
to ensure a peaceful solution, in line with the needs and demands of 
the indigenous communities. 


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