There is a great deal going on in Colombia even beyond Cauca. I am a bit backlogged in terms of article writing, but an article updating and explaining the situation throughout Colombia is definitely on the agenda. Meanwhile, some more information on the military and political situation in Northern Cauca.
I forgot to link here to the article I did a few days ago. on the topic. There is also an op-ed by Daniel Garcia-Pena Jaramillo, a very good analyst with long experience with the FARC and the government from when he was peace commissioner during the negotiations in the 1990s. His piece is on the political failure of the FARC. His last line expresses a disbelief that is widely felt.
Even worse than not speaking though, is not listening. I don’t understand a guerrilla organization that is indifferent to what the people say can aspire to be the army of the people.
Since he wrote his piece and I wrote mine the military confrontation continues. On April 28 the Colombian daily El Tiempo reported new combats in the towns of Jambalo and Tacueyo, which neighbours Toribio (I visited Jambalo briefly last year during my trip to Cauca and have several photos of Tacueyo in the photo essay on the movement). In Tacueyo three minors were injured by a pipe bomb.
These attacks have taken place since members of the community have begun to return. On April 25 El Tiempo reported that 5000 people who had left Toribio were returning. Mayor Arquimedes Vitonas expressed worries that “now will come the selective assassinations.” On April 26, the indigenous council of Jambalo reported that ‘in a gesture of nonviolent resistance the community of Jambalo has decided to remain in Permanent Assembly so long as the conditions under which they can return to their homes are absent.” (They assembled in the centre of town and camped there overnight – defying the armed actors who told them to leave.)
I believe the most important single piece of news in the area is the statement made by the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca (ACIN), whose communique of two days ago demanded that the military organizations ‘silence the guns so words can be heard’. They call for 1) a ceasefire, 2) demilitarization of the region, and 3) commencement of negotiations toward a political solution to the conflict. A translation (I can’t take credit for it) of this communique is below.
URGENT COMMUNIQUÉ: “SILENCE THE GUNS SO WORDS CAN BE HEARD”
In face of the escalation of the war in our territory, and taking into account the difficult situation in which we are living, we the Nasa Paez communities reiterate before national an international opinion – as has already been expressed in the official communiqués of the ACIN beginning on April 15, 2005 (see www.nasaacin.net) – our call to a:
CEASE FIRE, COMPLETE DEMILITARIZATION OF THE AREA, AND THE BEGINNING OF CONVERSATIONS TO SEARCH FOR A NEGOTIATED SOLUTION TO THE ARMED CONFLICT IN COLOMBIA.
We say this taking into account our deep rejection of:
The declarations of Mr. President of the Republic Álvaro Uribe Vélez concerning his firm decision to “eradicate the guerrillas from Cauca” and no dialogue with terrorist groups until they put an end to their military actions (in the same way that has been done with the self-defense groups).
The continued presence and political pressure from the members of the FARC on the dwellers of a wide area of Northern Cauca and their expressed position of strengthening their military control in that territory.
Faced with these radical positions of the actors at war, we the indigenous peoples of the Northern zone of the department reiterate OUR DECLARATION OF A STATE OF HUMANITARIAN EMERGENCY until there exist true guarantees for human rights, international humanitarian law and, above all, for the community process of the indigenous communities.
We openly manifest that we the indigenous population, as a whole and as each individual person, are in imminent danger of being subjected to processes of legal prosecution or execution, currently or afterwards, by any one of the actors involved in the conflict.
“TO CONTINUE WITH ROOTS IN THE LAND”
ASSOCIATION OF INDIGENOUS TOWNSHIPS OF NORTHERN CAUCA (ACIN)
CAHB WALA KIWE