Legislating the indigenous out of existence

An announcement from the indigenous people of Northern Cauca in reaction to recent legislation working its way through the Colombian Congress. The announcement is simple: the indigenous will not obey laws against nature. By saying this, the indigenous are trying to make clear that the legislation is in effect a declaration of war against them. It will be treated as such by them. It should be understood as such by others.

In other Colombia news. Plan Colombia is up for renewal in the US Congress. While it misunderstoods who the corrupters are and what the flow of resources is between Colombia and the US, the McGovern amendment would be a positive development if passed. The proposal by Congresswoman McCollum is below the communique from the indigenous of Cauca.

Author: Indigenous Authorities of Cauca

DECISION OF THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES IN THE FACE OF LAWS THAT GO AGAINST MOTHER EARTH

June 24, 2005

The Indigenous Regional Council of Cauca (CRIC), the Association of Indigenous Authorities of Northern Cauca (ACIN CWAB WALA KIWE), and the Environmental Economic Authority, in the face of the legislative bills on Waters, Forestry and Mountains that is being processed by the Fifth Commission of the Senate of the Republic,

Based on our customary law, Law 89 of 1890, the rights enshrined in the National Political Constitution of 1991, Articles 3, 7, 63, 67, 246, 329, 286, 330 and on Convention 169 of the ILO ratified by Law 21 of 1991 and Resolution Number 1 of May 1, 2005, emanated in the Twelfth Congress of Indigenous Peoples of Cauca,

We declare our opposition as peoples and Indigenous Authorities of Cauca to the legislative bills on Waters, Forestry, and Moors that are being processed in the Senate of the Republic. We do so because these bills have as their fundamental purpose that of making possible and legalizing the CONCESSION of the waters, forests, and moors, that is to say, of all of LIFE, to private corporate interests so that they, driven by their insatiable global egoism, may exploit them for their benefit, converting them into profits at the cost of abusing and destroying them and along with them the balance and harmony that guarantees their survival and that of us peoples and cultures who coexist with them in our lands.

Furthermore, for us indigenous peoples rooted in our cosmovision, the forest, the moor, and the springs of water are sacred spaces of life in which the spirits live, and it is, therefore, unthinkable to engage in extractive and/or intensive productive activities in them. These sacred spaces are visited by traditional doctors to learn from the spirits and to gather medicinal and/or magical plants to strengthen culture and to harmonize life. From the concept of the holism, the unity of the indigenous people involves the spirits, people, plants, animals, water, soil, and other forces such as thunder and rain, among others, as integral elements of the system of life and existence. Its purpose, therefore, is for the use and sustainable contribution to the dignified life of the communities in harmony with nature and not for the accumulation of capital.

Each being has its place and is in relationship with other beings and places in rhythms and processes that must be recognized and respected with wisdom and conscience. That relationship of wisdom with rhythm and the place of all beings that make up life is the law of origin. To violate it or do it violence for any motive is the greatest crime possible against Mother Earth, its beings, and its rhythms. The purposes and powers that are designing the current legislative bills and which respond to the interests of transnational accumulation are by principle incapable of recognizing and respecting the rhythms and places of beings and their coexistence. For this reason, they are a threat to peoples and territories and go against LIFE.

On the other hand, these legislative bills are grounded in an ignorance of the content of Article 1 of Law 99 of 1993, which in its Numbers 2, 3, and 4 proclaims the rights and duties with respect to the ecosystemic and cultural biodiversity of the country: Number 2. “The biodiversity of the country, because it is a national patrimony and of interest to humanity, must be protected as a priority and used in a sustainable way. Number 3. “Policies will take into account the rights of human beings to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.” Number 4. “The zones of moors, sub-moors, the springs of water and the areas of replenishment of the aquifers will receive special protection.” Number 5. “In the use of water resources, human consumption will have priority above any other use.”

We know that these bills are being articulated to the negotiation and signing of the Free Trade Agreement and all of the other strategies geared towards favoring the interests of transnational capital and promoted by foreign governments and multilateral entities with the purpose of privatizing the life of the planet in all corners to exploit it and transform it into a commodity and profit and destroying it in the process. For this reason, we know that these bills do not come from Colombia nor are they only for Colombia. They are global laws that respond to transnational interests and powers, which also promote war, looting, and deception and which have disguised their intentions from the time of the conquest with discourses of protection and respect through the falsehood of the propaganda of pretty words. The history of the blood and death of the conquest and concessions is not new: that is why we can recognize it behind the mask of lies and false promises of protection, welfare, development, and progress.

As a result, rooted in our Law of Origin, we demand that the Colombian people be consulted in advance about these legislative bills. We reiterate our call on international solidarity, on the peoples of the world and on organizations and people committed to the defense of life and of Mother Earth, to actively give us backing, so that our just demands be respected by the National Government and by the multinational interests who promote and represent and who come to strip us of our ancestral lands and knowledge. We do not understand, we do not accept, and we reject as criminal the concession of life to the multinationals. It is our clear duty to struggle and defend the rights of the peoples who defend life and their natural resources since they are not and will never be up for sale.

We announce to the Government, to the People of Colombia, and to the world our decision to disobey and ignore the laws that violate the right to Life and our Law of Origin, because we cannot accept orders from those who promote death.

WITH A COPY TO: PRESIDENT ALVARO URIBE VELEZ, SENATE OF THE REPUBLIC, MINISTRY OF THE ENVIRONMENT, HOUSING, AND TERRITORIAL DEVELOPMENT, MULTINATIONALS AND NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS.

CONGRESSWOMAN MCCOLLUM’S INITIATIVE REGARDING PLAN COLOMBIA

Congresswoman Betty McCollum

McGovern Amendment to Reduce Military Aid to Colombia by $100 Million

June 28, 2005

1

Mr. Chair, the McGovern Amendment to cut $100 million from Plan Colombia is about accountability and sending a message that cutting deals with narcotics traffickers who pose as politicians will not be tolerated by the American tax payer.

After six years and over $4 billion dollars, Plan Colombia is not reducing the supply of cocaine on our streets, but has succeeded in making cocaine in America cheaper, more available and more potent than ever before.

The drug war in Colombia is failing – failing the people of Colombia and the American taxpayer. Spending another $735 million to stay the wrong course and continue to finance failure is irresponsible. Let us send a message to Colombia that there are no more blank checks in American taxpayers’ checkbook.

Unfortunately, Plan Colombia has not made the Colombian people any safer. More than 2 million Colombians have been forced to flee their homes, 90% of violent crimes – murders and rapes – go unpunished, and human rights abuses among Colombia’s military and law enforcement are all too common.

These are deeply disturbing trends. There is cheaper cocaine on America’s streets, millions of innocent people fleeing for their lives, and lawlessness. This is hardly what we could call “good governance.” In return for the narco-terrorism and corruption, the American taxpayers are being asked to reward the Colombian government.

Now, a law passed by Colombia’s Congress and supported by President Uribe provides immunity and protection for right-wing death squads and narco-terrorists.

For ending their participation in death squads, Colombia will be giving virtual immunity and protection from extradition to narco-traffickers, many under indictment in the United States.

One paramilitary death squad, the AUC earns 70% of its income from narcotics trafficking and the AUC is listed as an official terrorist organization by the U.S. Government. The AUC’s leader, Diego Murillo, is described as a “brutal paramilitary warlord who made a fortune in the drug trade.”

Under the plan for disarmament supported by our allies in Bogotá, Murillo and terrorists like him who have committed massacres, kidnappings, drug trafficking and the murders of elected officials receive freedom from prosecution – and keep possession of their riches.

In Colombia, if crime pays, if drug trafficking pays and if terrorism pays – let’s not have the American tax payer pay for it. Congress needs to cut funding for Plan Colombia – save the American taxpayers $100 million and send a message that Colombia cannot protect narco-terrorists with our tax dollars. I strongly urge my colleagues to support the McGovern Amendment.

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.