( Translated by John I. Laun, a CSN Volunteer Translator)

Source : http://congresodelospueblos.org/ejes-y-sectores-vista/paro-nacional-2016/item/899-minga-nacional-agraria-exige-trato-politico-y-no-militar-y-represivo.html

On this second day of the Minga Nacional Agraria,  Campesina, Étnica y Popular we want to inform the public opinion that nearly 70,000 campesinos, indigenous and Afro-Colombians are gathered in different roads of this country in 27 states and in more than 100 gathering places. Each day that passes more people are coming to this peaceful protest and there are many expressions of complaint and of social mobilization that are being planned and programmed in many of the main cities of the country by different social sectors.

La Minga Nacional Agraria, Étnica, Campesina y Popular has received on the part of the National Government a war type treatment, which contradicts the promises made to the Minga’s spokespeople. It is obvious that the Minga does not have the guarantees for the free exercise of social protest and the situation of human rights becomes more and more serious in many places where there are peaceful demonstrations of campesinos, indigenous and Afro-Colombians.

There have been very serious attempts against the life and personal integrity of participants, such as the death in the middle of attacks by the ESMAD of the indigenous Embera, Willington Quibarecama – Nequirucama, who was 26 years old, and the injuries caused by firearm to the left arm of Manuel Jovel Dagua.

In the majority of places where the National Minga is developing its concentrations, its leaders and participants have been targets of rigorous intelligence actions, which are clearly illegal. Many of its leaders have been photographed or videotaped, and they have even been asked for their phone numbers. This is a worrisome situation because on many occasions this type of intelligence has been used in attacks and other acts of victimization against popular leaders. This situation has happened in Lizama, Catatumbo and Sutata.

Even before the Minga was started, a campaign of defamation, hostility and sabotage was being orchestrated through the perverse claim by the Governor of Norte de Santander, William Villamizar Laguado, ESMAD and the Army that this was not a Minga but an armed strike. In this way they were trying to legitimize, justify, and motivate the exaggerated and disproportionate use of force against campesinos indigenous and Afro-Colombian citizens who were demanding respect for their rights.

Thousands of persons from the rural sector have been able to arrive at their respective concentration places in spite of the multiple intimidations and threats that they have received. The transportation drivers have received direct threats seeking to prevent their passengers from arriving at their destination, as happened in the case of campesinos going to meet in the paramo of Berlin. Several alternative media journalists have not been allowed to arrive at the places where the Minga is taking place to cover the news of the Minga, violating the right of freedom of information. The siege by the Army of campesinos who had already arrived at the places where they were to stay and sleep has generated great fear among the demonstrators of what could happen in the next few days, as in the case of Santander and Boyaca. Overflights have been made in places of concentration, discouraging wireless phone messages have been made against the communities by the ESMAD itself and the Army, which have also carried out a disinformation campaign through pamphlets widely distributed in entire communities urging them to “Stop the armed strike”. This cannot be the treatment given to the just and legitimate social protest by a government which prides itself on defending and seeking peace. Its speeches are simply rhetorical if the government continues confronting this Minga in such a brutal way.

We want to say that we are not going to relax and that in spite of all this warlike treatment we are going to sustain and continue to demand the required changes for the agrarian sector throughout the nation. We are legitimate civilian and political actors and we cannot be compared to an armed group. And the unfortunate comparisons of campesino areas such as the Catatumbo with the Bronx neighborhood in Bogota, is only valid insofar as situations of extreme poverty are treated militarily.

Failure to keep the Agreements

On the other hand the national government alleges that it has carried out the agreements and cannot explain why the Agrarian Summit is carrying out this Minga.

It is true that with respect to some of the commitments made through the so-called “acuerdos de confianza” (confidential agreements), have advanced, but you cannot say that even 50% of them have been complied with. There are subjects such as the awarding land titles, projects of infrastructure and the subject of guarantees and human rights, where the advance has been minimal or null. With respect to a line of financing through the Development Fund for Agriculture, the national government committed itself to invest $250 billion pesos during the term of the 2014 budget, but the Agrarian Summit has received only 40% of this sum. Likewise the government committed to guaranteeing that these resources would respond to the principle of being annual amounts, but this has not been achieved, since for this year 2016 the government is only releasing resources for fiscal year 2014, leaving up in the air the appropriation of resources for the two following years. With respect to the Peace Summits only 30% of the resources have been released. The small amount for organizational strengthening, which is the smallest amount, the complete amount agreed upon has been released.

However, it is very important that public opinion gets to know about the eight fundamental issues which are contained in the unitary set of national demands (Pliego Unico Nacional). After three years of having initiated negotiations, there is no agreement on any of them, and only with three of them have some interchanges and proposals been generated, without there being any real commitment from the National Government to advance with respect to some of the proposals made by the Agrarian Summit.

It is true that this negotiation has spent many hours and a lot of money on meetings, which only show right now the low level of effectiveness and the lack of political will to solve the essential issues and to attend to the most forgotten and impoverished sectors of the national agrarian scene, sectors which have historically been forgotten and condemned to dehumanizing and degrading levels of poverty. It would be better to invest less time and resources in negotiations, but make them more effective and fruitful. We need to evolve from talking to agreeing and to doing things which really will change the life and destiny of the people who live in the countryside.

All the actors in these negotiations: President Santos, the United Nations and the Agrarian Summit itself, recognized a year ago that these negotiations had fallen into a deep crisis and little was done to bring them out of this limbo. Because of all of the above, we do not have another alternative except to return to the streets and roads of Colombia and from there to call for the solidarity of the Colombian people with respect to the agrarian sector.

We request that this new call of the Agrarian Summit be heeded to carry out deep changes in national policy, and not just to offer crumbs from the national budget, designed to silence the voice of thousands of communities. We have proposals on all the points of the list of demands and we want this government to show its real will to make peace and overcome the political conflicts through dialogue and a disposition to advance on all of the fundamental points of the set of demands (Pliego Unico).

We request that this negotiation be advanced, because this can well demonstrate a path for success or failure of any pretension to advance to peace with justice and social equality, and we request that the military treatment that is being used be suspended.

Cumbre Agraria Campesina Etnica y Popular
Bogota, Mayo 31 de 2016

Walk with us:
Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia ONIC, Congreso de los Pueblos, Coordinador Nacional Agrario CNA, Mesa de Integración Agraria y Social MIA, Federación Nacional Sindical Unitaria Agropecuaria FENSUAGRO, Mesa de Unidad Agraria MUA, Marcha Patriótica, Asociación Nacional de Zonas de Reserva Campesina ANZORC, Asociación Campesina Popular Asocampo, Coalición de movimientos y organizaciones sociales de Colombia COMOSOC, Movimiento por la Constituyente Popular MCP, Asociación Nacional Campesina ASONALCAM, Proceso de Comunidades Negras PCN – Autoridad Nacional Afrocolombiana ANAFRO.

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