(Colombia) Afro and Indigenous Peoples Strengthen the Struggle for the Defense of Our Territories

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Within the framework of sharing experiences of defense, territorial control and the exercise of self-government, on February 13-14, 2018, Indigenous and Afro communities gathered in the estate of Trinidad vereda Lomitas, Santander de Quilichao with the objective to carry out an interethnic territorial council between the Indigenous guard and the Afro guard.  Among the participants were representatives from the municipalities of Suarez, Buenos Aires, Caloto and Santander de Quilichao grouped in the community councils of Acon, Urpak, la Brisas, Alzacia, among others.  On part of the Çxhab Wala Kiwe were representatives of the reservations of La Concepción, Cerro Tijeras, Pueblo Nuebo Ceral, Munchique Los Tigres, Canoas, Nasa Kiwe Tekh Ksxaw and Huullas.

With the participation of approximately 100 comunerxs between Afro and Indigenous peoples, experiences were shared regarding processes of formation and territorial control.  The gathering began speaking to the local and national context regarding the way in which armed actors are causing disharmony in the territories, with threats, assassinations and persecution against leaders and the community in general.

These disharmonies are caused by the rise of new groups that are fighting over territories, the implementation of the peace accords in Havana, the peace dialogues between the government and the ELN in Quito, the electoral contests, and the new stage of the extractive economic model which through the agroindustry of sugar and illegal mining, has looted the resources of our country generating a large margin of inequality in the nation.

The representatives of the different community councils and Maroon guards demonstrated the problems they are facing in their territories such as selective assassinations, motorcycle thefts, threats to Afro leaders, the growth of illicit crops, illegal mining and the dispossession of territory carried out by multinational corporations.

The Afro communities arrived with concerns regarding the difficulties that are occurring inside their territories and they have proposed to continue strengthening and articulating links between the Maroon guard and Indigenous guard to confront these disharmonies.

Around eight o’clock in the morning on the second day, the Indigenous guard began to train the Maroon guard acting in emergency situations such as in the presence of armed groups in their territory.  This work ended around 4:00 pm in a positive manner since many experiences and much knowledge was shared between the two guards.

Afterwards, Thursday the 15th and Friday the 16th, in the estate of Las Palmas, the Indigenous reservation of La Cilia la Calera of the municipality of Mirando carried out the interethnic territorial council with Afro communities of Villa Rica, Padilla, Corinto, Guachené organized in community councils, between them Barranco Rio Güengüe de Corinto, and the participation of the Indigenous communities of the reservations of Toribio, Jámbalo, Tacueyo, Miranda and Corinto.

Around 65 Afro and Indigenous comunerxs accompanied this space of organization with the objective of strengthening and sharing experiences of the guard in agreement with the orientations that had been given by the community and the elders to articulate resistance and care for their territories.

To fulfill this challenge, things began with the contextualization of the local, regional and national level by different representatives of the Maroon and Indigenous guards, speaking about autonomy, resistance, persecution and assassinations of social, Indigenous, Afro and campesino leaders.  That is why it is important to continue strengthening communal territorial control.

After this space of organization where joys, struggles, threats and dreams were shared, there still remains much work to be done, particularly regarding the people caring for their territory.  However, we should not see this in an isolated way as only one community.  This is the work of everyone because in our diversity, we also must protect our culture from the different processes of resistance in the north of Cauca.

Translated from the original here: http://www.cric-colombia.org/portal/20203-2/

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