It is with a mixture of sorrow and anger that we of the  
Colombia Support Network (CSN) received word of the murder of Jose  
Edwin Legarda, companion of the extraordinary indigenous leader Aida  
Quilque. We are tremendously sorry for Aida and her daughter who have  
lost a spouse and father. But we are also outraged that a Colombian  
Army unit carried out the killing, firing at least 17 shots at the  
vehicle Jose Edwin was driving. Witnesses have denied the Army’s  
account that Jose Edwin approached a military checkpoint and failed  
to stop when ordered to do so. Instead, it appears clear that the  
vehicle was ambushed with the intent of killing those inside, who the  
assailants may have thought included Aida, who had just returned from  
a meeting of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations in  
Geneva, Switzerland. There she had described the terrible threats  
facing the indigenous peoples in Colombia and the numerous abuses to  
which they have been subjected.

             Aida has been one of the leaders of the Minga Indigena,  
which demonstrated on behalf of protection for the lives of the  
indigenous peoples, and recognition of their rights to their native  
lands. The Uribe Administration has failed effectively to protect  
these rights as it promotes the interests of multinational businesses  
and their Colombian business partners, who seek access to these lands  
for mining and monoculture projects. We believe that the murder of  
Jose Edwin may have been part of a calculated, intentional strategy  
designed to eliminate those who have led the Minga, and to scare away  
those who support it.

             We therefore declare our solidarity with Aida and with  
the others who have with great courage organized and participated in  
the Minga, including community leaders who are very close to CSN. We  
call for a thorough investigation of the circumstances of the attack  
upon Jose Edwin and punishment of those who planned and carried out  
this outrageous maneuver. We call upon the Colombian government to  
respect and protect those who participate in the Minga and to  
recognize and protect the indigenous peoples’ rights to their lives,  
their lands and their traditions. We support the organizers and  
participants in the Minga in their activities on behalf of these goals.

             Please write to President Alvaro Uribe to let him know  
you support the indigenous movement of which Jose Edwin Legarda was  
an important part and you are monitoring developments to see that  
justice is done in his case. Also please write Colombia’s Minister of  
Defense, Juan Manuel Santos, to express your concern about this (and  
so may other) atrocities committed by the Colombia Army. And write  
your representatives in Congress and Secretary of State Condoleezza  
Rice (and/or Secretary-nominee Hillary Clinton) to let them know your  
concerns about how U.S. military aid to Colombia continues to be  

Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI  53701-1505
phone:  (608) 257-8753
fax:  (608) 255-6621
e-mail:  csn@igc.org

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