Above photo: AFP.
The people of Colombia are coming together yet again to demand an end to the right-wing political violence and repression that is ravaging the country. Under the leadership of the indigenous Minga, at least 7,000 original peoples and their allies have gathered in the capital city of Bogotá from across the nation to make the following four demands:
- An end to the massacres, ethnocide, genocide, femicide, and political violence, and the dismantling of paramilitary organizations;
- Land reform and an end to the politics of resource extraction;
- Guarantees of freedom to protest and participate safely in the political process;
- Demilitarization of Colombian society and fulfillment of the peace accords.
Minga is an indigenous concept that means working to build together, doing things in community for the wellbeing of all. The leaders of the Minga are also calling on President Iván Duque to meet with them face to face to discuss these demands. On Wednesday, October 21st, labor organizations and Colombian popular movements will engage in a national strike that will link together with the Minga.
The Alliance for Global Justice will continue monitoring the situation. We are especially concerned for the safety of those participating in this movement. For years we have tracked abuses committed by ESMAD, riot police created in partnership with and armed by the US government. Abuses have included assaults on rural, indigenous, and Afro-Colombian communities demonstrating for land rights, rural development, and crop substitution programs. Recently AfGJ has reported and mobilized against threats and assaults carried out by ESMAD that included the massacre of 13 protestors against police brutality on September 9th.
The 2020 Minga initiated in the south of Colombia by the CRIC (Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca) and was joined by other indigenous organizations such as CONPI (National Coordination for Indigenous Peoples), CRIDEC (Regional Indigenous Council of Caldas), and the CRIHU (Regional Indigenous Council of Huila). This Minga was organized from the base by listening to each other, and as a response to the current economic and social crisis in Colombia. The Minga started on October 10, 2020, in the Department of Cauca, and from there has made the journey through the cities of Cali, Armenia, Ibagué, Fusagasugá and Soacha, finally reaching Bogota. Indigenous Peoples, Peasants, Afro-descendants, Social and Popular Movements, Students, Urban dwellers, and Trade Union Sectors are walking for the defense of the fundamental right to life; for territory for Colombians and respect for the territories of the communities (along with the care of nature); for democracy as a system of government with guarantees of political, economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights; and for peace as a guarantee and possibility for all Colombians. The Minga represents the needs of the oppressed people in Colombia and for that reason it is extremely important for the Colombian state and the government to listen to the Minga and respect their process. People of the US must demand that our nation stop supporting repression in Colombia through the massive funding of the Colombian military, police, and jails. We call on the US to fully support the 2016 peace accords instead of encouraging the institutions of war and repression.
Since the signing of the peace agreement, massacres, killings of social and political leaders, indigenous and Afro-descendants have been increasing to an extremely alarming level. Often the perpetrators are the Colombian Armed Forces themselves. Frequently they are paramilitary death squads, at times, narco-gangs, both operating with impunity. Entire families and communities are being displaced from their territory, victims of armed groups seeking control of their land and resources.