Colombia: Terror Campaign Targets Indigenous Population

On Monday afternoon, the Association of Indigenous Authorities of Northern Cauca (ACIN) received the text of a threat by email, which we are attaching below for you to read. This letter of terror, signed by the CEC (Campesinos Embejucados del Cauca, or ‘Furious Peasants of Cauca’), announces that "at approximately 00:00 tonight, you will receive information regarding the murders at the hands of peasants of paHECES [1] and the ex-guerrilla heads of the CRIC, which will be confirmed by phone and a consequences of their disrespect." In this threat, we are referred to as paHECES, or ‘excrement,’ exposing the racism of the author(s).

The 7-page threat states throughout its hateful and false content the decision to defame the indigenous process and the commencement of a campaign of terror and death. The context in which this letter has been sent is that of the parapolítica [2], with the clear collusion of the Colombian government:

The threats against the indigenous movement made by the President of the Republic, who has ordered the payment of rewards for the arrest of indigenous Senator Jesús Piñacué, who is mentioned in the threat;

The recent confession of the paramilitary member Orlando Villa Zapata, involved in the 1991 massacre in El Nilo [Cauca], that said massacre was planned in the Hacienda La Emperatriz in the presence of the landowners;

The recent spree of murders in Santander de Quilichao [Cauca] of 25 young people in one week and this past weekend’s massacre of ten people in El Tambo.

This letter is the culmination of a sharp increase in threats against indigenous leaders in Northern Cauca. This threat is also based on the unfounded declarations of General Jaime Esguerra, linking functionaries of the indigenous mayor’s office in Toribío with the 6th Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

The initial reading of this letter obliges us to make a call of MAXIMUM ALERT to Paez leaders and community members in Cauca as well as in the departments of Valle, Tolima, Putumayo and Huila and in the cities of Cali, Popayan and Bogota. All indications lead us to believe that this letter comes from the landowners and paramilitaries in collusion with their counterparts in the government.

We urgently call for national and international solidarity. Concerted actions in solidarity will allow us to uncover the origin of these threats in order to ensure that this criminal action will face justice. The web site of has been blocked, and internet access at the ACIN’s Tejido de Comunicación y Relaciones Externas [Communication and External Relations Network] has been cut off.

This threat was not written by peasants. Its crude yet carefully elaborated language has allowed us to discern this with certainty. We reiterate our solidarity with the Afro-Colombians and peasants with whom we have united in our shared struggle for social justice, freedom and resistance against the power of the landowners, a power that attempts to condemn us to silence and flight from our lands through the use of terror.

We will not fall into the trap of hate that tries to divide us in order to maintain an order of injustice and poverty. For life, peace, and the Freedom of Mother Earth, we defend dignity and unity and call out to collectively reject the hate of these false peasants.

We call upon the National Indigenous and Popular Movement and all the peoples of the Continent to accompany us in these difficult moments in which power cannot learn to accept our historic struggle. WE WILL RESIST!

Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC)
Association of Indigenous Authorities of Northern Cauca (ACIN, Cxab Wala Kiwe)
Cauca, 11 August, 2008

Translator’s notes

[1] a racist slur. Instead of ‘Paez’, another name the indigenous Nasa go by, the author(s) use the word ‘paHECES’. ‘Heces’, in Spanish, means ‘stool’ or ‘human excrement’.

[2] Parapolitica refers to the scandal in which Colombian politicians have been shown to have proven links to right-wing paramilitary death squads.. See: