EL ESPECTADOR, April 27, 2022

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

As the caravans of social organizations arrived in Bogotá, they made a Declaration that includes five proposals.

As part of a joint press conference, including leaders and social organizations that have arrived in recent days in Bogotá from Quibdó, Buenaventura, Tuluá, Cajamarca, Barrancabermeja, Pasto, and Arauca, they issued a Declaration of Humanitarian Emergency, in which they urged the administration to take action to guarantee their lives and presence in the countryside, where now they find themselves besieged by the armed conflict.

“There must be a Declaration of Humanitarian and Human Rights Emergency in the whole country, as a genuine and stand-alone strategy for the defense of lives, liberty, and human rights, for the self-protection of the towns, the communities, and the social and popular organizations, so that they will be able to continue living in the countryside,” stated the speakers.

In the document they gave to the national authorities and international agencies, the signers’ organizations pointed out that their purpose is to obtain recognition and accompaniment by the Colombian government, as well as recognition of appropriate systems for self-protection, such as zones that could be considered humanitarian refuges.

They added to that the demand that the social mobilization make visible the humanitarian crisis they are living in regions like the Pacific and Catatumbo, where the communities have ended up in the middle of battles between the armed groups, and so have had to leave and be displaced, or else they would be confined in their houses.

Among the events they are highlighting are the killings of some 1,300 social leaders and 323 signers of the Peace Agreement between 2016 and 2011, according to Indepaz statistics, as well as the human rights violations that took place during the National Strike, which, according to organizations such as Temblores and the UN, left more than 100 people with eye injuries, besides the 60 cases of sexual and gender violence.

Besides all that, they emphasized some social and economic conditions that they believe are placing the communities at risk. Because of that they are asking international organizations to follow the human rights situation and accompany the social movement activities, and also that they open spaces for dialog and pay attention to the conditions of the social leaders in this country.

“The backhoes that they are mobilizing in the Pacific are not just cell phones you can carry in your pocket. If the Armed Forces wanted to control them, they would do it. Neither do the armed groups act in secret, they walk around dressed in camouflage and carrying guns. So we think that the major responsibility rests with the national government, because right now it has no interest in seeing that our communities live in a decent way,” said Angulo.

With regard to the population, he said that he works with the communities to make them aware of what’s going on, “so they understand that their land problem is not just their problem, and that helps us to collectivize our interests, and going from there to help make what’s happening to us more visible, and to get some allies who are not just Afro-Colombian, indigenous, or campesino, but other groups that are interested in having good lives in the towns,” Angulo concluded.

For her part, María Eleonor Yondo, of the Agrarian Campesino Movement, referred to the crisis that has pervaded in recent years, to food sovereignty, agroecological sustainability, and the proposal for a new agrarian reform. “We have collective protection measures, such as the Campesino Guard, which is recognized as a system for the protection of our land. As campesinos, we are defenders of life, the land, and the environment, and that’s why we have made proposals for the mitigation of hunger, such as ways for confronting the importation model, but we need the administration to understand that we are not terrorists and that we are ready to put our proposals forward.”

Along the same lines, Edgar Mejia, of the Indigenous Regional Council of Cauca (Cric), focused on what had happened at Puerto Leguízamo in Putumayo Department, and he rejected every kind of violence in Cauca, and the stigmatization of the social movements. “Cric is implementing strategies to promote a peace that is for the whole country. We are not violent as some of the media have called us. Cauca is one of the departments with the most violence. Our leaders have recently been murdered because they defend our rights, like our partner Miller, who was murdered by an armed group when what we were doing was trying to make the problems in our territories more visible.”

For this Wednesday, April 27, the communities in Bogotá are planning a demonstration starting from the Pedagogy University, where we will gather, and then to the UN offices, where we will deliver the document containing our Declaration of a Humanitarian Emergency, while for the evening we have planned a memorial service for the social leaders who have been murdered.

Meanwhile, for Thursday, April 28, they have planned a public hearing at the Ombudsman’s Office, as well as accompaniment of the demonstrations planned for the commemoration of the first year of the social explosion.

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