Another Indigenous Leader Assassinated in Colombia

  Raul Mendoza, indigenous governor of the cabildo Peñón, from the municipality of Sotará, and former member of the council of chiefs of the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca, and ex-president of the Association of Cabildos of Tierradentro, Nasa Uus, was assassinated in cold blood, at 4:00pm, on September 28, when he was in his room, in his home, located in the Barrio Solidaridad in the city of Popayán, Cauca’s departmental capital.

The indigenous governor was leading an important process connected to the campaign for the Liberation of Mother Earth, in the Los Naranjos estate, located in the municipality of Sotará, which had been claimed by the displaced Nasa community that was affected by the earthquake and avalanche that took place in Tierradentro in 1994. The Naranjos estate had not been properly handed over to the community, despite the fact that they had carried out every necessary step required by the INCODER, The Colombian Institute for Rural Development, to do so. This is the result of the negligence of the national government, which prevented the negotiation over the land titles through the Municipal Council for Rural Development.

In the last few weeks, the Indigenous Governor Mendoza had made repeated pronouncements, before organisms of the state, as well as to the office dealing with indigenous issues, about ongoing threats against his life and the community as a whole, but to no avail. This situation of threats led the indigenous authorities, organized under the banner of CRIC, to release a missive on August 22, 2008, where they energetically rejected the ongoing threats, specifically three attacks against the community within the cabildo of “El Peñon”, carried out by the public force (Cauca Police), in an area peacefully occupied by sectors of the community for the last three years.

The death of an Indigenous Leader, like the one that occurred today, is part of a chain of assassinations that have been carried out in the last eight days against leaders of social organizations in the department of Cauca, like the case of Ever González of CIMA, and César Marín of the ANUC.

Through these means, the ominous threats carried out in an anonymous fashion by paramilitaries who called themselves “campesinos embejucados” or “angry peasants,” sent to the offices of the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca, ACIN on August 11th, are materializing. These same threats are also manifest in the irresponsible accusations made by the President of the Republic regarding social protests, for example, his offer of rewards to break the unity of the indigenous communities of Cauca, and his claim in a Community Council he held on September 27, where he linked the just struggles of the sugar cane workers, now on strike for over two weeks, with the guerillas of FARC.

The Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca, CRIC, calls on human rights organizations, the international community, on neighboring countries who are fighting for a more just and democratic society, to remain on high alert and to express solidarity with the social processes that continue to get attacked by violence promoted from the spheres of the central government of Colombia.

In the face of these acts, the indigenous people of Cauca remain firm in our commitment to work in Minga, in a state of social and community resistance, expressing in unison that the word will not be silenced and our march will not be stopped!

CONSEJERÍA MAYOR – Council of Chiefs


Popayán, septiembre 28 de 2008

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