PrensaRural.org, October 12, 2023
(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)
The National Land Agency performed a transcendent delivery of land: the first expansion of the Titanho Mijaamu indigenous reservation, La Libertad, in Amazonas Department. An expansion hoped for for more than two decades, which extends 21,921 hectares + 2,852 square meters. It will benefit more than 599 people.
In an unprecedented event, which has resonated throughout the green hearts of Amazonia, Colombia has opened a historic chapter in its agricultural policy.
On October 8 and 9, the Minister of Agriculture, Jhenifer Mojica, sat down with leaders representing several indigenous peoples in the eastern Amazonian region with the objective of tracing a joint road map, framed by inclusion and respect for the ancestral traditions, to incorporate the perspectives of these communities in this country’s agricultural reform programs.
A New Democratic Focus on Agricultural Reform
Minister Mojica emphasized that agricultural reform, frequently seen as one more government measure, is in reality an exercise in democracy. “Agricultural reform is democracy. It’s the power to guarantee access to land for the populations that need it and have a close relation with it, such as the campesino, indigenous, Afro-Colombian peoples, and the victims whose land was stolen in the conflict; the rural women, indigenous, campesino, Afro-Colombian and fishing communities,” pointed out the topmost representative of the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry.
The objective of this integrated focus is to build a system that not only respects, but actually celebrates the voices and the rights of these communities and permits them to prosper sustainably in their ancestral territories.
For its part, in the same meeting, the National Land Agency carried out a transcendental delivery: the first expansion of the Titanho Nijaamu indigenous reservation, La Libertad. This expansion has been hoped for for more than two decades; it extends 21,921 hectares + 2,852 square meters, and will benefit more than 599 people. Simultaneously, the Land Restitution Unit imposed historic interim relief measures to protect the territorial rights of the indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation, Yuri and Passé, who are facing threats like deforestation and illegal mining.
The Pillars of the Transformation: The Decalogue
The culminating point of this meeting was the formulation of a Decalogue. This document not only represents the fundamental principles of agricultural reform centered on Amazonia, but it will also serve as a guiding light for future government policy. Among the key principles are the following:
- Agricultural reform is a reform for living. Neither the country nor the planet can exist without Amazonia, the heart of the water on which agricultural activity depends, as well as the food sovereignty for most Colombians, and which has been administered and protected for millennia by the indigenous people.
Therefore, the agricultural reform will be constructed and materialized jointly between the indigenous and non-indigenous peoples, placing at the center their systems of knowledge and management.
- The Indigenous Territories are organized according to the Laws of Origin of their peoples. The government and administration of the territory is exercised on the basis of the worldview and cultural foundations that ensure the integrity and well-being of the communities. The agricultural reform recognizes indigenous territorial organization, includes its Plans for Living, and supports its instruments for management as vital tools that determine the management of the territories.
- The indigenous food systems are the basis for the organization of their territory. Since the beginning of the world, the Amazonian indigenous peoples received the territory and, with that, an original order of things; specific knowledges given to each of the peoples to manage the farmland and obtain enough food from the jungle. Thus, they were given the responsibility to maintain the order and equilibrium for the preservation of life. Agricultural reform promotes the human right to food, and it recognizes the place occupied by Amazonian indigenous food systems in their Plans for Living as cultural foundations for territorial organization, the axis of social, economic, and political organization, and the guide for the exercise of government.
- The management of the territory requires the daily work of men and women. Their skills and roles are complementary and interdependent. As mothers of seeds and givers of life, the Amazonian indigenous women sustain the community’s well-being and the good life in the territory. They’re the ones that light the fire, provide the food, and sweeten the people’s speech. They are healers, leaders, farmers, and wise women, and they find a place in an agricultural reform that permits organization of the territory from their own Indigenous Food Systems.
- The ecological and cultural calendars are tools for the management of the territory. The indigenous territorial organization is part of the equilibrium of life systems in Amazonia, because it allows the establishment of time and space for organizing the plantings, establishing communities, carrying out rituals, and finding the places to obtain food for the good health and the good life in the territory. Agricultural reform will promote the diversity, and recognize and integrate the knowledges that belong to the indigenous people.
- An agricultural reform for a plural and diverse government recognizes and endorses the vision of abundance held by the indigenous peoples of Amazonia. For the indigenous peoples of Amazonia, nature is person: animals, plants, and minerals are people. As people, they have the capacity for action and decision. Producing and reproducing life implies negotiating with nature. Therefore, economic relations and articulation of the indigenous territories with the market have to consider principles like vocation and reason for being that are specific to the Amazonian territory.
- Formalizing the indigenous territorialities to strengthen the government and biocultural connectivity of Amazonia. Legal security of the indigenous territories is an indispensable condition for guaranteeing the free determinations of the indigenous peoples. Agricultural reform will implement the institutional improvements necessary to put into place the formalization, protection, and security of the indigenous territories and take the steps necessary to protect the people in their natural state, and preserve the ecological, social, and cultural connectivity of Amazonia.
- Getting the indigenous territories underway will consolidate the administrative and political organization in the country. Thus, agricultural reform will push ahead with inter-agency articulation, and will impart orientations for the correct delimitation of the indigenous territories, respecting the decisions and agreements established by the Indigenous Councils to define their jurisdiction within the framework of their constitutional responsibilities as public authorities.
- This intercultural dialog will strengthen democracy in a diverse and plural government. Undertaken as a conversation among different knowledge systems, in equality of conditions, based on respect and mutual appreciation and, above all, on the principle of Amazonian indigenous culture of complementarity and interdependence among those who are different. Starting with that, agricultural reform will be a setting to make possible the encounter with diversity.
- The Indigenous Councils, along with the national government, will embrace “total peace” in the indigenous territories of Amazonia. From the jungles of Amazonia, as a legacy for the new generations of women and men, there will come the winds of change so that nature will provide abundance for everyone. The good life of the peoples and the consolidation of the indigenous territorial entities will be attributes of agrarian reform that will make it possible to live together in peace in Colombia.
A sustainable future for Colombia
This agreement and this decalogue transcend the borders of a simple agricultural reform; They are a declaration of profound respect for the land, for biodiversity, and for the communities that have protected Amazonia for generations. Colombia, to honor and recognize the wisdom of the indigenous peoples, has taken a bold step toward a sustainable and harmonious future. This pact, more than a simple agreement, represents the beginning of a more just and equitable Colombia where every voice counts and every life has an intrinsic significance in the history of the nation.