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Armed Groups Attack Colombian Indigenous Governor's Funeral

  • ONIC issued an open letter, in which it denounces the risk situation experienced by the indigenous communities of Cauca.

    ONIC issued an open letter, in which it denounces the risk situation experienced by the indigenous communities of Cauca. | Photo: Twitter/@clacpi

Published 22 April 2021

In the incident, 22 people have been reported wounded, and indigenous authorities have captured five attackers. 

The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) denounced Thursday that armed men shot at members of an indigenous minga, which was advancing in the sector of the Ancestral Lagoon of Siberia, in Caldono, department of Cauca, in rejection of the murder of the indigenous governor Sandra Liliana Peña Chocue. 

According to the most recent information from ONIC, 22 people have been reported wounded, while members of the so-called "Minga hacia dentro" have managed to capture five of the attackers. Previously the indigenous organization released on its official profile on Twitter a statement promoting the event. 


Colombia: Indigenous Governor Murdered in Northern Cauca

"Armed men are attacking the Minga Hacia Adentro, which in the exercise of the defense and protection of the territory the brothers of the indigenous peoples of Cauca have been carrying out. So far, several people have been reported injured, including traditional authorities, indigenous guards, and community members," the text indicated. 

The ONIC specified that the 22 wounded were transferred to the village of El Pescador and from there to a medical center. One of them is in serious condition. It also revealed that members of the minga reportedly detained five of the men who fired the shots.

On April 20, Governor Sandra Peña was assassinated after four armed men forced her out of her house to shoot her. Counselor Ferley Quintero stated that the governor had planned to travel to the city of Popayán to attend a meeting with the national government when she was the victim of the attack.

Quintero also noted that Liliana Peña had recently stated her opposition to the increase of illicit coca crops in the department, a position she held as governor and exercised territorial control against the presence of armed groups.

As a result of this work, the indigenous leader received death threats from the irregular armed groups that control Cauca, especially the municipality of Caldono, where her reservation is located. 

"#ALERT| At this moment, armed men are attacking the Minga inside the ancestral territory of La Laguna Siberia in Caldono, Cauca. There are 7 people WOUNDED with firearms, including indigenous guards. #SOSPueblosIndígenas."

Given the situation, ONIC issued an open letter. It exposed the risks that indigenous communities in Cauca live in due to the increase in violence and authorities' inaction, given the extent of the problem. 

"National and international public opinion should urgently accept our call and place all their resources to make known the reality that today plagues our territories, without stigmatization or criminalization of our communities, we are the victims of this war," the letter stated. 

The document also lamented the death of Governor Liliana Peña. It stated that aside from her assassination, 44 social leaders and local authorities have been murdered in Colombia so far this year. In addition, they hold the State responsible for assuming a position of indifference and lack of protection in the face of the pain of the indigenous communities. 

"Today we mourn the death of Governor Sandra Liliana Peña, of the Resguardo La Laguna Siberia de Caldono, which is added to the more than 44 leaders and authorities murdered this year alone, so we must affirm without delay that the Colombian State is solely responsible for its institutional neglect and its inability to protect our lives against the onslaught of illegal actors in our territories," the text stated. 

It also denounced that there is a crisis in the implementation of the Peace Agreement, mainly concerning the "Ethnic Chapter for Peace," and reiterated that a sign of this is "the trail of deaths, massacres, confinements and dispossession that threaten the survival of our peoples," the ONIC said.

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