Declaration by the INGA and KAMENTSA peoples

(Translated by Diana Méndez, a CSN Volunteer Translator, and edited by Buddy Bell, a CSN Volunteer Editor)

The ancestral and indigenous INGA and KAMËNTSÁ peoples of the valley of Sibundoy, Putumayao-Colombia declare:

As ancestral peoples, the Inga and Kamëntsá are thousand-year inhabitants of the Ancestral Carlos Tamoabioy territory which is located in the High and Middle Putumayao and the states of Nariño and Cauca in southern Colombia.  We are protectors of life and guardians of the Earth. This is a duty and natural law inherited from our ancestors for our future generations and humanity. In our territory there is an understanding that our laws, traditional education, worldview and cultural identity are what our survival as ancestral peoples and our lives themselves depend on.
We denounce:
The encroachment upon our ancestral lands, which are in a high risk situation, due to the carelessness of the Colombian government’s institutions. In this case, the Interior Ministry and the Ministry of Justice through its Directory of Ethnic Groups and Indigenous Affairs is refusing to acknowledge the existence of the Inga and Kamëntsá peoples in the ancestral lands Carlos Tamoabioy.

The government for ignoring the existence of the Inga and Kamëntsá  peoples on a legal level, which has permitted institutions and projects with interests in the Amazon Piedemonte (translator’s note: region of the Amazon region of Colombia near the east mountain range) to enter the ancestral lands Carlos Tamoabioy without permission of the Inga and Kamëntsá peoples. This violates the communities’ ancestral rights, their constitutional rights and their rights to an informed and free decision [regarding access to their lands].

The National Agency of Hydrocarbons (ANH by its initials in Spanish) for ignoring the existence of the indigenous Inga and Kamëntsá peoples in the Valley of Sibundoy in [the drafting of] mining cartography.

The Colombian Institute for Rural Development  (Instituto Colombiano de Desaarrollo Rural INCODER by its initials in Spanish) for abolishing the protections granted by the colonial title (No. 2400 of September 24, 2009), putting the ancestral peoples affected at great risk.

The Autonomous Corporation for Sustainable Development in the Colombian Amazon (Corporación Autónoma para el Desarrollo Sostenible del Sur de la Amazonía Colombiana CORPOAMAZONIA), for the granting of environmental license and NOT CONSULTING the indigenous peoples, which promotes the privatization of the Ancestral Lands.

INGEOMINAS (the Colombian Institute of Geology and Mining) for the mining concessions [of Copper and Molybdenum] granted in the high and middle Putumayo to the South African mining multinational Aglo Gold Ashanti, which endangers human rights in the places where they operate.

aThe Initiative for Regional Infrastructure for South America (Iniciativa de Infraestructura Regional para Sur América -IIRSA ) and the Putumayo area project San Francisco-Mocoa, for misrepresenting itself to the communities as a social investment project by the state, while in reality being a project of the World Bank for the systemic extraction of natural resources (oil, water, minerals, traditional knowledge, natural wealth).

The project of the expanding of the forest reserve of the Cuenca Alta of the River Mocoa, which takes over the Ancestral lands of the Inga and Kamëntsá peoples of the middle and high Putumayo, endangering the communities’ territories, their right to self-determination and their cultures. The communities of the middle and high Putumayo practice rites which involve collection of medicinal plants, this being a sacred place. This leaves open space for the exploitation of the reserves of uranium, gold, marble and cooper in the region without asking for permission, in addition to the permissions granted by the new mining code.

The transnational "conservation” project of the real cordillera proposed by the WWF (world wildlife fund), which spans the mountains in southern Colombian (known commonly as el Macizo Colombiano) until Huancabamba in northern Peru, seeking the privatization of the Amazon Piedemonte. This is an affront given the mercantilist (green markets, carbon bonds and bio-commerce) which this "conservation" transnational wishes to bring to this region without the permission of the communities.

The WWF has been advocating a process of privatization in the land along the length of the regional plateaus in the Amazon Piedemonte, with private organizations such as the Cultural Foundation of Putumayo, Option Putumayo Foundation and the Ampora Association, in the valley of Sibundoy.  They seek the purchase of lagoons, wetlands, springs and rivers under the excuse of conservation and ecotourism.  This results in a commercial image of the communities that has nothing to do with reality and the needs of our ancestral peoples, making them into simple commercial banners, while our communities receive no real benefit. In the same way the US SWING FINING company, under its subsidiary foundation FUSIE of Pasto, aims to privatize access to water without the consent of the indigenous peoples that live here.

For these reasons, the ancestral communities Inga and Kamënstá, will mobilize on July 26, 2010 in order to draw attention to these problems, so that our ancestral rights will be honored, as they are guaranteed by the OIT , the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Political Constitution of Colombia,  Law 21 of 1991, Article 004 of 2009 of the Constitutional Court.

This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.

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