Possible Massacre in Choco

Not much is known yet about who is responsible or even who the victims were. But in Choco, one of the regions of Colombia with the largest Afro-Colombian presence and the hardest-hit by paramilitaries, it seems that at least one person was murdered and three others disappeared. The association of indigenous councils of Northern Cauca prepared the following communique and it was translated by the activists of “La Chiva”.


Not much is known yet about who is responsible or even who the victims were. But in Choco, one of the regions of Colombia with the largest Afro-Colombian presence and the hardest-hit by paramilitaries, it seems that at least one person was murdered and three others disappeared. The association of indigenous councils of Northern Cauca prepared the following communique and it was translated by the activists of “La Chiva”.

**UPDATE/CLARIFICATION: Though I am leaving the below communique, ACIN sent another communique today (May 23/08) clarifying that only one body had been found (that of Ovidio Malaga) and three others are disappeared and have not been found alive or dead.

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Massacre in Chocó, Colombia

Seven People Murdered by Armed Groups in the Lower San Juan

Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca (ACIN)

We have just received painful news, invading our souls with bitterness and hopelessness upon learning that the lifeless body of our compañero Ovidio Málaga, ex-governor of the Puerto Pisario Council, in the Lower San Juan, and those of another five Afro-Colombian compañeros, were found in García Gómez, a territory located between the Chocó and Valle departments.

Yesterday, the governor had left to visit his brother in a nearby place, accompanied by an Afro-Colombian, Rodrigo López, and did not return home. Today, at 2pm, they were found murdered. The community does not yet have information on the authors of this massacre, but they have confirmed a great amount of armed group activity in the area of the Lower San Juan.

Today, we received the news of the murder of another 5 Afro-Colombian compañeros in the area, though at the moment of this urgent communiqué, more details are not yet available.

The source reports, “this is a military zone, under the complete control of the Armed Forces.” The Council is located close to Bahía Málaga, a port megaproject and major military base of the Colombian government. In Puerto Pisario, territory of Black communities, there is another military base. Running through indigenous and Afro-Colombian territories, there is also a pipeline project, precisely where these crimes took place. The affected territory is located in the south of Chocó bordering the Valle del Cauca.

Tomorrow, the body of the murdered leader will be returned to Mother Earth. “In the midst of this pain, we are confused. The murder of the indigenous leader is the death of a community process”, said the community’s spokesperson.

Given these events, the community demands that the government verify the facts and conduct a subsequent investigation, that there be justice and that impunity not again prevail in this painful situation. “We demand the accompaniment of the ONIC [the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia], the CRIC [the Regional Indigenous Councils of Cauca], and the other indigenous organizations, as well as the same from the Process of Black Communities, and human rights organizations. We hope that they don’t abandon us now, knowing that the killers and those that abuse us depend on silence to do us in.”

The Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca vehemently condemn this crime that, once again, demonstrates the systematic aggression against indigenous and Afro-Colombian peoples. The situation of those peoples hurts and distresses us; they have committed no crime by rejecting war and defending life. They happen to live in territories of interest to those who want to displace them. They have been turned into a hindrance and are subsequently frightened and killed, not unlike that which has occurred and continues to occur in the entire national territory. We are uniting in their demand and call for accompaniment and active solidarity. We reiterate that demand. We also invite the indigenous and Afro-Colombian movement and all Colombian popular and social organizations to accompany and support the community of San Juan in these moments of pain.

We echo the words of the spokesperson Wounann, who overcome with grief expressed: “we are peaceful, we know why we have this territory”.

Those of us who know that we have this territory for peace and life must unite in order to stop those who want it for exploitation and death. They are killing and expelling our brothers and sisters.

We will remain waiting. For now, we share this pain and sadness and call for the sewing of life and solidarity on earth stained with innocent blood. We demand justice. The guilty must be exposed and made to respond to these charges.

ASSOCIATION OF INDIGENOUS COUNCILS OF NORTHERN CAUCA – ACIN
(CXAB WALA KIWE)

Author: Justin Podur

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.