AFSC Note on Toribio

While I translate the communiques from the community itself, here is a piece from the American Friends Service Committee (which I believe is Quakers) on Toribio.

Friends and relatives,

Attached you will find an urgent action on the Nasa indigenous peace communities in the Cauca region of southwest Colombia. This community isaccompanied by AFSC, one of UDP’s partner organizations. The Nasa and the U’wa have worked and strategized together, and as U’wa supporters, we are asking you to call your representatives and email the Colombian consulate, forward and post this email.

En paz y lucha,

Ana Maria Murillo

Executive Director

U’wa Defense Project

Presidio POB 29457 San Francisco, CA 94129

Office 415 561 4518 Fax 415 561 4521 Cel 415
724 1221

udp@mindspring.com www.uwacolombia.org

Providing legal, community development, research & advocacy support to the Indigenous U’wa people in Colombia as they work to defend their life, land & cultural autonomy.

American Friends Service Committee Urgent Action on Colombia

Yesterday, Thursday, April 14, 2005, a battle took place between the FARC and the Colombian army and counter-guerrilla police in the indigenous peace communities of Toribio and Jambalo in the north of the Department of Cauca, in Southwest Colombia. The civilian population has had to abandon their homes given the indiscriminate use of gas cylinders as explosives and
the exchange of gunfire between the FARC and the Colombian official armed forces inside the community, besides aerial bombardments by the Colombian Air
Force in the rural areas surrounding the towns. Today, there are reports of
the semi-destruction of the town and damage to the homes, farms, organizational centers as well as the official headquarters of the Nasa indigenous people. Also, 21 civilians were severely wounded and a nine year old child was killed. The community had to evacuate 2,200 people into the school and community center (CECEDIC) where the indigenous peace guard is trying to protect them as well as other smaller towns that have been designated as safe havens.

The violence in Toribi­o and Jambalo is one of the products of the attempt by the Colombian government to engage in a military solution to the civil war. Despite protests by community members, the official armed forces established permanent posts in these towns in 2002, using the civilian population as human shields to respond to attacks by the rebels. In addition, Colombian armed forces have continued to be involved in violating the rights of civilians, as documented in a report this month by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights that showed while all armed actors (guerrilla and paramilitary groups) violated human rights, there was a significant increase in the involvement of Colombian security forces in human rights violations.

And in February, members of the peace community of San Jose de Apartado
suffered two massacres that were carried out, according to witnesses, by soldiers who identified themselves as members of the 11th Brigade of
the Colombian armed forces.

It is noteworthy that communities of Toribi­o and Jambalo have received wide recognition for their commitment to sustainable development, peace, social and cultural survival. Last year they were awarded with the Equatorial Prize from the United Nations, and the Indigenous Peace Guard received the Colombian National Peace Prize precisely because of their peaceful work for the protection of life and the rights of the Nasa indigenous communities.

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) has had a long-standing partnership with the Nasa indigenous communities in Colombia. We are extremely concerned about the use of indigenous territories as battle fields by all of the armed actors-paramilitaries, government forces and the guerrillas. We are also concerned that U.S. financial support of the Colombian military (often complicit with illegal paramilitary groups) compounds the situation and aggravates the violence in these communities.

Between 1999-2005, the United States gave Colombia more than $2 billion, of which 83 percent has gone to Colombia’s military and police. Congress is already beginning to examine President Bush’s proposal to send another almost $731 million to Colombia next year.

The AFSC is calling on all people of conscience to write to their legislative representatives and ask them to take a position against funding for Colombian military forces. We also call on you to write to the Colombian consulate in your area and the Colombian government representatives listed below asking them to investigate the above-mentioned incidents and to have the Colombian government publicly express support for efforts by indigenous peoples to create peace communities free of all armed actors.

In light of the urgent situation we are being called to:

* Encourage your organization to send letters to the Colombian consulates and government asking them to cease all hostilities.

* Call your representatives or write to them and let them know that peace is possible in Colombia, but not through more military aid and fumigation. Also, encourage your representatives and senators to stand up for a new U.S.-Colombia policy that supports human rights and the environment, and strengthens peace and justice.

* Tell your representatives about the peace communities of Toribio, Jambalo and San Jose de Apartadó

* Support AFSC so that we can provide immediate assistance to the peace community.

For more information please visit our website: www.afsc.org/colombia

For alternatives to current US policy go to: http://www.lawg.org/docs/Blueprint.pdf

For a list of your legislative representatives please visit:

http://www.fcnl.org/congress.htm

Please write to the following government representatives in Colombia:

ALVARO URIBE VELEZ
President of Colombia
Carrera 8 n. 7-26 Palacio de Nariño,
Santa Fe de Bogotá
Fax (571 ) 286 74 34 – 286, 68 42 -284 21 86
E-mail:auribe@presidencia.gov.co

SABAS PRETELT DE LA VEGA
Minister of Justice and the Interior
Carrera 8 # 8-09 – Bogotá
Fax: 0057-1-286.80.25
E-mail:mininterior@myrealbox.com
E-mail
:ministro@minjusticia.gov.co

JORGE ALBERTO URIBE ECHAVARRÍA
Minister of Defense
E-mail: infprotocol@mindefensa.gov.co
Colombia’s Mission to the United Nations.
E-mail:
mission.colombia@ties.itu.int

Ambassador Luis Alberto Moreno
2-118
Leroy Place, NW,
Washington, DC 20008
Phone: (202) 387 8338
Fax: (202) 232 8643
E-mail: emwas@colombiaemb.org

Dr. Rafael Bustamante
Human Rights Unit – Area of Prevention
Protection Program
Ministry of Interior
Carrera 8 # 13-31 Piso 13
Bogota, Colombia
Fax 011-571-566-3234
E-mail: dhdirector@cable.net.co

CC:

Honorable William Wood
US Ambassador in Colombia
(fax) 011-571-315-2163. or 011-571-315- 2197
Email (care of Jerome P. Hohman, Human Rights Officer):
hohmanjp@state.gov

Natalia Cardona
Latin American Caribbean Program
American Friends Service Committee
1501 Cherry Street
Philadelphia, PA
19102
Tel: 215-241-7162
Fax: 215-241-7177
web: www.afsc.org/colombia
To President Bush: Don’t fumigate us! We are not flies, we are not mosquitoes. We are human beings. From: Indigenous women in Colombia.

Justin Podur

Author: Justin Podur

Author of Siegebreakers. Ecology. Environmental Science. Political Science. Anti-imperialism. Political fiction. Teach at York U's FES. Author. Writer at ZNet, TeleSUR, AlterNet, Ricochet, and the Independent Media Institute.