(Translated by Steve Fake, a CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by Teresa Welsh, CSN’s Volunteer Editor)
National Coordinator of the Early Warning System
Re: REQUEST FOR INSTITUTIONAL ACCOMPANIEMENT
In my capacity as Legal Representative of the Black Community Council of Acandí River Basin and Northern Coastal Area, I am writing to you with all due respect in order to explain the following:
First – The Community Council of the Acandí River Cave and North Zone was granted 10,400 hectors by the Colombian state as collective land of the black communities in conformity with Law 70 of 1993 and Decree 1745 of 1995.
Second – This property was delivered without any demarcation or delimitation of individual titles.
Third – In the black and mestizo community, there has never existed and does not exist today clarity on the fundamentals and scope of this law, and therefore many people, without being of the ethnicity, consider themselves owners in the black lands by the simple fact of having purchased land before or after Law 70 of 1993.
Fourth – The various governmental entities of the municipal, departmental, national, and international level are unclear about the extent of Law 70 of 1993, ILO Convention 169, and Law 21 of 1991. This has caused many confrontations between them and the Black Community Councils of Acandí. For these entities, the Black Community Councils are the enemies of municipal progress. To their supporters and followers they depict the councils as something negative, responsible for everything bad that happens in the territory by virtue of the fact that we demand, as mandated by law, that we see the plans that they pretend to undertake in our territory or have to do with our people.
Fifth – The security forces (military, police, coastguard, harbormaster, the Administrative Security Department (DAS), etc.) do not have the clarity of function or competence that we in the Black Community Councils have, and have, on many occasions, expressed ideas that endanger the lives of the black representatives and the process in general. The Permanent Directive Number 007 of the Ministry of Defense, which deals with the ethnic issue, is very little known within the security forces, and therefore very poorly enforced.
Sixth – The INGEOMINAS (the Colombian Institute of Geology and Mining), in violation of Article 49 of Law 70, Convention 169 of the ILO, and Law 21 of 1991, awarded a mining exploration contract to the business Anglo American Exploration for over 1,600 hectors in our land and authorized the presence of the mining companies Gold Plata and Grupo de Bullet, for work in our territory, without any type of prior agreement with the ethnic authority. The above generated the expectation that the municipality of Acandí was very rich in gold, platinum, tungsten, molybdenum, etc.
This expectation generated a stream of migrants onto our land. Greed and the price of land rose, and pressure on the land increased in a clear and visible way.
Seventh – On September 30, 2010, a meeting was held of the three Black Community Councils, Anglo American Exploration, the Interior Minister, the Minister of the Environment, INGEOMINAS, and the municipality of Acandí. In this meeting we were informed by the aforementioned entities that the contract of exploration had been permanently cancelled because the Minister of the Environment had denied the environmental license. At this meeting, we warned of the danger that this news could put us in, because the community could have the idea that we were responsible for this decision, and thus our lives were at risk. In this same meeting, we denounced the death threats that had been made against the legal representative of the Local Council of the township of Capitán and President of the High Council, Mr. Fredy Pestana Herrera.
Eighth – In the afternoon hours of October 11, Ana María Morena was murdered. She was the legal representative of the Local Community Council of Asti, and a member of the Board of the High Council. Her murder left her husband widowed, and ten children without a mother. The same day, we received a telephone call from a number which we gave to the national police and the army, containing the sound of a chainsaw and a voice that threatened the black legal representatives of Acandí.
Ninth – These death threats have led to the displacement of three families. The other families in the districts mentioned above are awaiting the response of the state to finally know if they can remain on the land or will also be displaced.
Due to the above,
1 – Monitoring by the Ombudsman, through the competent authorities:
2 – Humanitarian aid for the family of Anita Moreno and the displaced families from the village of Asti and Capitana.
3 – Special protection for the properties of the family of Anita Moreno and other displaced families in Asti and Capitan.
4 – Urgent visit to the village of Asti and Capitan to assess the situation of the properties that are now occupied by black men and women of the area.
5 – Design of a security plan for the legal representatives of the community councils of Acandí.
6 – Delimitation and demarcation of the collective land of the black communities.
7 – Create a municipal security council in the village of Capuganá, with the participation of the municipal mayor, municipal attorney, police, army, Administrative Security Department, Acción Social (the presidential agency in charge of displacement), prosecutor, and other competent authorities on Thursday, October 22, 2010.
The situation is absolutely critical and dangerous for all of us that defend the black community in Acandí, so each passing day elapses very slowly.
EMIGDIO PERTUZ BUENDIA FREDY PESTANA HERRERA
LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE PRESIDENT
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