Colombia: National call for mobilization and struggle

Colombia: National call for mobilization and struggle
On October 1, 2008, the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC <> ), which represents Colombia’s 800,000 Indigenous People, declared October to be a month of social protest “against the genocide of Indigenous Peoples and the criminalization of social movements” in Colombia.

Below you can find ONIC’s full call to action, translated to English. You can read the original Spanish version here <> . Thanks to Teresa Martinez <>  and friend for the translation.
National call for mobilization and struggle
October 2008, month of indigenous and popular resistance against the criminalization of social mobilization, the genocide of social movements and of Indigenous Peoples.

For defence of territories and life.

For democracy, justice and human dignity.

There are more than enough reasons to explain why we are calling for mobilization of us all – men, women, young people, social sectors throughout Colombia, in the month of October. We have spent 516 years reclaiming our ancestral rights, our territory and our autonomy. Today, as yesterday, we continue to demand realization and respect for our rights, our lives and dignity for all Colombians.

For the non-indigenous world the month of October represents the celebration of a discovery and meeting of two worlds. But, on the contrary, for us Indigenous Peoples it has meant what we have personally experienced ever since: extermination, colonization and submission.

But it is not only we Indigenous Peoples who are suffering the consequences of national and international policies at the service of big capital – policies which are expressed in the erosion of fundamental rights such as education, health and housing, and which also do damage to trade union rights and gradually undermine the 1991 Political Constitution of Colombia, bringing reduction of democratic freedoms; loss of territory for indigenous people, peasants and people of African descent; increased concentration of wealth in the hands of the few; and widespread hunger in the neighbourhoods, communes, villages and communities of our country.

Today we see a process of destruction of social movements through policies of co-option, stigmatization and criminalization, and indeed the physical extermination of their leaders. Systematic murders, disappearances, perjuries and persecution of those opposed are the commonest expressions of the policy of “democratic security”.

Today we Indigenous Peoples arise in order to continue defending life. At this time it becomes necessary that this rising should be the meeting-point of a great national agenda of social and popular sectors. The Colombian People is resisting in different ways: the homeless beside indigenous people, women, those of African descent, peasants and trade unions unite to struggle against hunger; in the neighbourhoods they organize to defend the right to housing against the greedy financial system; workers down tools to demand wages and conditions worthy of their work; young people and students fight for the right to education and for a future in this country; we Indigenous Peoples continue to liberate Mother Earth and to defend our territories. For all these purposes our social organizations have the duty and challenge of raising a united call to unify our struggles, to defeat all the measures imposed by this régime at the cost of our lives and welfare.

Our duty is to unify the struggles, to strengthen political opposition against a régime based on paramilitary strategy. We indigenous people have for decades denounced this State strategy of using private armies to exterminate social movements. Today we see how Congress and other organs of this State allow free passage to the gentlemen “commanders of paramilitary groups” and their political representatives, who on the basis of supposed demobilizations have gradually gained legitimacy, aided and abetted by powerful media of communication. We see, too, how today the régime is stained with the blood of thousands of leaders of social movements who have fallen at the hands of those criminals who act according to the interests of landowners, international capital, the political classes and the big businesses of our country. Today we cannot keep silent against the heavy hand of impunity, so we must unite to demand that the truth be revealed to the country and to the international community.

In this context we Indigenous Peoples call for October to be a month of days of social protest. We make the following demands:
We mobilize against the genocide of Indigenous Peoples and the criminalization of social movements:

  • Denial of our rights as Indigenous Peoples has brought us by the road of civil resistance and peaceful protest. We demand of the State the right to Free Association, Opinion and Expression, and the right to peaceful social protest.
  • The Government and State of Colombia must comply with the protection of the 18 Indigenous Peoples in danger of extinction. For this they must make an action plan with the national indigenous organizations and their indigenous authorities. We also demand of them in this regard political will and assignment of resources so that the promises may pass from paper to reality.

We mobilize for the defence of territory:

  • The present government’s policy legislation has been founded on supporting measures of protection for the investment of multinational businesses to guarantee their interests. Also, it provides them with security through the militarization of territories, for example the Colombia Plan. Consequently they are founded on great policies and plans of development which exclude and violate, such as the Free Trade Agreement and IIRSA [Initiative for Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America].
  • Democratic agrarian and urban reform. For distribution of property in the countryside and towns in which displaced persons, unfavoured urban and rural sectors, peasants, those of African descent and Indigenous Peoples can have land and homes. That the indigenous population, people of African descent and peasants can have restored to them the lands taken by violence or by legislative and administrative actions.
  • Immediate expulsion of multinationals and transnationals from the territories, because they are the originators and accomplices of violation of the rights of the Colombian people, of massacres, insecurity before the law, and hunger, experienced by many sectors of marginalized and excluded Colombians.
  • Immediate cessation of fumigation on the pretext of combating the drugs traffic, and of militarization through the programme of manual eradication.
  • We mobilize for the immediate repeal of the Statute of Rural Development.
  • Dismantling of the “Statute of Rural Development and Reform of INCODER [Colombian Institute for Rural Development] – Law 30”, as the greatest expression of exclusion, repression and discrimination against the Indigenous Peoples of Colombia, the purpose of which is to deny access to our territorial rights as genuine owners of these lands, and to legitimize the violence and expropriation to which we have been historically submitted.
  • Immediate legalization of indigenous territories, carrying out of the agreements and decrees 2164/95, Law 160/94. We demand a budget for the territorial needs of Indigenous Peoples.
  • For return of lands to peasants, indigenous people and African descendants who are at present displaced.

For a negotiated and honourable outcome to the armed conflict:

  • Real dismantling of paramilitary groups. For we are still suffering their presence in our territories, those called Black Eagles and AUC [United Self-defence Forces of Colombia] among others.
  • Full guarantee to the victims of the right to Truth, Justice and complete Reparation.
  • Punishment of those guilty of genocide of Indigenous Peoples and social movements.

For respect and realization of rights:

  • On 1st November 2006 the meeting between indigenous peoples and the Colombian State broke up, for the government offered no guarantees to respect the rights of indigenous peoples. We demand full recognition of our rights enshrined in the Political Constitution of Colombia.
  • To promote the declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in OEA [Organization of American States] and immediate signing of the United Nations’ declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

We call upon the Colombian people, peasants, Colombians of African descent, women, workers, students, defenders of human rights and all other social movements, to:
To all social movements and struggling sectors to construct a list of demands or common agenda for the defence of rights and for dismantling of the present government’s regressive, anti-popular policies.

We make a special call for unity in all the sectors’ diversity, so as not to let ourselves be distracted and divided by strategies of the government and landowners of imposing or giving rise to squabbles between ourselves (peasants, indigenous people, African descendants), and so as to close ranks for repeal of the Statute of Rural Development.

To unite themselves with our struggles.

To rise up against the Free Trade treaties.

To defend the sovereignty of natural resources.

We urge the organizations of control and defenders of human rights to intervene as guarantors in this process of mobilization.

May our silence become a single shout!

National Authority of Indigenous Government ONIC

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