MANIFESTO OF STUDENTS OF IMA (Instituto Misionero de Antropologia) – UPB (Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana) FOR SEEDS AND THE EARTH

In the framework of the Forum “Land, famine and man”

Puerto Asis (Putumayo), 13 – 18 December, 2010


(Translated by Leo H. Torres, a CSN Volunteer Translator. Edited by CSN volunteer editor Teresa Welsh.)


This manifesto is aimed at all those willing to understand that solidarity is the fabric of peoples; the authorities, whom the society assigned a responsible position to make a positive mark of his time on earth; our leaders and organizations who daily sow the seed of the collective consciousness in a persistent way; and our own people, to awaken the consciousness of being and doing.


The IMA – UPB in Puerto Asis headquarters, is a university where we are representing 14 indigenous peoples, Afro-Colombians, rural peasants and urban dwellers from the departments of Putumayo, Cauca, Caquetá, Nariño and Amazonas. At IMA, those who have been restricted from access to higher education come from villages, jungles and remote rivers, eager to put into social practice all that we learn in a living classroom, where it is not only  the teacher who teach us , but we are all learning from each other due to the richness of multiculturalism.


At a university like this, academics cannot be separated from social scope and organizational work that many students and leaders do, building a pedagogical activity as educators of the people based on the value of solidarity. This is the reason we say, “We serve others in the name of other, so that the world has less hungry.”


“What happened with the seeds of our land?” It is a question we are asking, in an open and ongoing discussion, dealing with the situation of our communities related with the food issue?

The problems of this large territory of the South are unrelated to the institutions where the national destiny is decided. They only look at this place as a potential and active source of resources, a focus of conflict and a distant frontier.


There have been many factors that have kept us isolated from each other, ignoring specific problems even from our neighbors. The question for our seed is not only a concern for physical hunger, but for the cultural survival of our communities in dignity.

We are demonstrating so we will be able to build together.

We are demonstrating to find solutions to our problems.

We are demonstrating to be recognized.

We are demonstrating to save biodiversity, and natural and cultural wealth.

We are demonstrating the desire for Putumayo without hunger, strengthening cultures with food sovereignty.

We are demonstrating because the word is the expression of the wisdom of our peoples, and the custodian of an identity that takes care of our Mother Earth.



Our crops are both natural food and spiritual nourishment. Our myths explain the identities of our people. Peoples of maize, cassava, banana, chiro, rice, peach, borojó, beans, and sugar cane and in general all the native seeds are the source of life and heritage. From all the gods we have received gifts:

Daddy Nukanchipa was the creator of the world Inga.

Sbuachan created the maize of Kamentsá people.

Morocobain, the sacred turtle, made of cassava for the Siona.

Moniya Amena gave the tree of abundance to Murui people, from where comes all the food that maintains his people.

 Ksxa’w Wala, the God of all things, let the plants and the corn to the Nasa people.


Today, however the legacy of seeds is at risk. The disappearance or reduction of the seeds, which are food, spirit and identity of our peoples, leads us to look the reality in which we live, finding that:
• The Putumayo is a department where despite the existence of indigenous communities, you can see a population composition based on the migration of peoples from other territories,  determining processes of colonization.

• In this journey from one side to another, we express concern, especially with younger generations; in the case of indigenous peoples some have been losing their own language, and also the knowledge about seeds and traditional foods. We have had to adapt to new lands and other dynamics. By the dynamics of the market, there is a tendency for us to become buyers, rather than food crops.

• There is a reality that affects all of us: the coca economy. In the boom and then in the crisis of this illegal activity, there have been problems for those communities related and unrelated to this activity. The scope of this single-crop farming has taught some of us through suffering, that money is not food and that we are losing our identity.

• Some rural and indigenous communities in Putumayo are under the stigma of coca-growing population, although during good times they keep away from this activity, supporting traditional farming of food crops. Even today they are the people less benefited by governmental and non-government to develop projects in the region.

• What currently afflicts us more is aerial spraying as it affects food crops, water resources, undermines the organizations and communities generating displacement. This situation is recognized by official bodies, when they are taking in consideration the securitization of the areas of food crops, finding that the majority of rural lands cannot participate in the program by lack of land titles. Even in the case of some indigenous peoples who are partially titleholders of some reservations, their area suffers the consequences of the fumigation.

 • Therefore the availability of seeds as a food source to ensure the survival of our peoples is related directly to the right to self-determination, respect and recognition of land ownership.

• For the peoples and communities represented in the IMA, the recognition of their territorial is not guaranteed completely, especially for communities seeking to establish collective territories:
Some native peoples do not have enough territory to keep the traditional chagra (parcel). Others are in a process of redefinition of their identity, which also allows them the access to land ownership. In general, all indigenous peoples have established councils as our instance of authority, and through them move forward in the process of vindication and recognition of reservations in different municipalities in Putumayo and surrounding departments.

There is also a peasant process that advances in the creation of reservations and areas of biodiversity. With the support of several local and regional organizations, we already form the reservation of Perla del Amazonas (Amazon’s Pearl) and a biodiversity area in the village of Ancurá in the municipality of Puerto Asis.

• There are threats to the territories already recognized, as well to those which are in the process of being recognized. These threats are the following: indiscriminate purchase of land for the establishment of single-crop farming such as grasses, palm oil, bio fuels, and introduction of GM seeds and patenting of our traditional medical knowledge. In the same way, road infrastructure projects by land and river (Intermodal via: Mocoa – Pasto, dredging and connection of the rivers Caqueta and Putumayo), fumigation with glyphosate and other implementation of Plan Colombia, the exploration and exploitation of oil and other minerals, indiscriminate felling of forest; bills that favor the extraction of our resources without considering our own processes and the forced displacement, among others.

 • In the midst of this complex reality, a glimmer of hope lights when we identify the support and assistance from our regional and national organizations, especially from indigenous communities based on their own education processes, improvement and recovery of indigenous foods related with Plans of Life. Rural communities have been working in our rural schools around comprehensive community programs where sustainable projects of production are implemented, the management and full recovery of soils, and the production, processing and marketing of agricultural products entering the system of barter. Excel in this dynamic the developments in the municipalities of Puerto Caicedo, Puerto Guzmán, Puerto Asis and Puerto Leguizamo.

• The Church is linked to these communal dynamics. Pastoral Social processes in the nation and in the region are signs of local hope. From programs such as wide range of dialogues, the Pastoral Parish Social Committee, COPPAS, some parishes bring forward an experiential exercise of spirituality accompanying communities in resolving most pressing needs, especially those related to land and territory, addressing including cross-border problems for many communities where the meaning of the word nation is just a flag that flutters in the wind.

• In addition, the IMA is linked to these activities through education. Our institution aims to promote multiculturalism and recognition of peoples’ diversity of thought, to plant seeds of awareness and self-determination.



“The seeds are the gift of a Supreme Being from whom we received corn as strength and hope, a banana as a miracle, cassava as abundance. This is the reason no man can appropriate them.
“We are born from the earth, she is our Mother. Putumayo territorial reality shows us that the earth is tired, has been assaulted from generation to generation. Our purpose is to contribute to the planting and harvesting of new fruits that we grow in fertile soil.

 “There will be life without land, no land without life.

“Despite all the processes of colonization in the Putumayo, indigenous peoples, Afro-Colombians, rural communities and rural residents of our urban centers still being living seed of conscience and survival.

“Education should serve as irrigation to sensitize future generations. As students of IMA – UPB we are home, school and training chagra (parcel) for our communities.

-Inside the seeds cultures are contained.

“Many people confuse rights with needs. The correct way is that we assert our rights by meeting our own needs with initiatives outputted by ourselves.

We therefore propose:


“Make reality the productive projects of IMA students in every community, in every river, causing the multiplication of initiatives. Each student and graduate of the IMA is an educator and leader. Their teaching with seeds involves: raising their immediate community about traditional products and food, and conduct participatory research processes related to them.

“The IMA community decided to create, multiply and track a seed bank that is linked to processes that have been evolving in the region and elsewhere in the country. In the pedagogic act of planting and harvesting of our Bank, we will share and gain knowledge of how to harvest and protect the seed which will germinate even inside ourselves.


“Based on the creation of the Seed Bank we will promote opportunities for exchange with a commitment to plant, cultivate and harvest and share the produce of the land with others. This will allow us to restore and maintain our internal networks, and networks among the communities that are living in our Putumayo’s communities with native communities, maintaining and creating links beyond the borders.

-We see the need to resume the ritual elements of the various IMA indigenous peoples related with the seeds and soil. Rituals as Nasa people’s
Sakele, among others equally significant and powerful, will help us to awaken the seeds, to remember and tribute to the mother earth.

-Based on the projection of our school, we want to influence public policies that promote the autonomy and preservation of ancestral lands and their means of survival and spiritual material.

“Through curricular activities, the IMA supports organizational work through the training of their students, which combines the teacher and the leader through the delivery of an education where the courses are useful for
read our own reality and act on it.

-Consult and follow the plans and institutional investment projects, the guidelines provided in indigenous life plans and rural community projects, recognizing the territorial and cultural autonomy of peoples.

-Participate actively and independently in the research of traditional knowledge, especially those related to biodiversity. Any action to investigate in the collective territories of traditional cultures, it has to be agreed with the communities, establishing joint research processes, where the outsider scientist will respect recognize our wisdom.

Students and teachers IMA


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

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