Here is the communique from the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca on the situation in Toribio, where there were ‘combats’ between the FARC and the Colombian military, causing the death of a 9-year old child, the wounding of some 20 (six of these seriously, though apparently 4 adults were not killed, which I had reported yesterday), the destruction of a dozen buildings, and the displacement of the population, who are assembled in villages outside the town and waiting to return to their town. These combats act as the perfect pretext for the army to occupy the place, militarize the region, and undermine the indigenous project of building autonomy.
Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC)
April 15, 2005
Communique on the situation in Toribio, Cauca, Colombia
According to the latest information from Toribio, from 5pm on April 14, the guerrillas have abandoned the centre of the town which they had occupied since 6am.
As a product of the attacks and confrontations, one child was killed and some 20 injured, the majority of whom are indigenous, 6 of whom are seriously wounded. These are being cared for in the hospital in Toribio and in a clinic in the indigenous reserve of San Fransisco.
The members of the community report that despite their aerial attacks from planes and helicopters through the morning, soldiers from the Colombian army only arrived after the guerrillas had already abandoned the town.
As a consequence of the combats a number of houses were in large part destroyed and others were severely damaged in a gas explosion produced by the combats.
Recognizing that some members of the community decided to return to their homes to protect their belongings while others are under permanent assembly elsewhere, guarantees for the life of the people of the municipality, help for the wounded, and prevention of the Colombian military acting like an army of occupation, are all urgent.
In consequence the people of Toribio require:
1. Humanitarian aid: state and institutional protections for human rights according to national and international law. Solidarity in the form of supplies – food, medicine, gasoline, water, electrical generation – are also urgently required.
2. Guarantees of protection of the permanent assemblies established at CECIDIC (the indigenous university campus near Toribio), and the villages of Manzano, Potrerito, and Vichigui located outside the town of Toribio.
The Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC) rejects this violation of international humanitarian law and repudiates the current war, with its lack of respect for peoples and human dignity, as an instrument of solution of conflict.