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  • Members of the Minga For Life outside ONIC's headquarters in Bogota.

    Members of the Minga For Life outside ONIC's headquarters in Bogota. | Photo: Twitter / @ONIC_Colombia

Published 14 November 2018
Opinion

A group of 450 Indigenous Colombians reached Bogota as violence in their territories continues to claim lives. 

The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia, or ONIC, denounced Tuesday night the lack of guarantees for the over 450 Indigenous people who traveled to Bogota to remain in the capital city. Via Twitter, they questioned the government of President Ivan Duque.   

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"These are the guarantees of the government of @IvanDuque for the people who flee Choco due to the conflict? Volunteers woke up inside @ONIC_Colombia and those who couldn't fit in the hall's floors had to sleep in streets 12b and 4th," they tweeted Wednesday morning.

Indigenous peoples of the Embera, Wounaan, and Zenu nationalities of the Choco region in the Colombian Pacific reached Bogota Monday to demand the fulfillment of a set of agreements reached in August 2017, which according to Indigenous communities have been unilaterally broken by Colombian authorities.

The agreements include safety guarantees in their territories, which have witnessed several incidents of violence. ONIC has reported that since late 2016 -when the peace agreement between the Colombia state and the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was signed- violence has forcibly displaced 5,730 Indigenous while 8,245 are suffering from involuntary confinement. 

They have also denounced that 10 Indigenous leaders have been tortured, 25 recruited by illegal armed forces, 65 have been murdered, and 161 are currently under threat.  

On Tuesday they resumed talks with government representatives but failed to reach a solution. At 11 p.m. the talks were suspended due to lack of guarantees for their permanence in Bogota. The ONIC announced they will resume talks Wednesday to discuss security, lack of health services in their communities, the need for education, energy, and transport infrastructure, and land restitution. 

In the streets next to the ONIC headquarters, where many had to spend the night, men, women, and children shared music and dance as part of the resistance. "In our #MingaPorLife (minga is a form of collective work) we dance to live, we dance to not die, we dance because we exist and resist in the face of oblivion. #IAmIndigenous, #IAmChoco." 

Members of the minga are also defending popular consultations as a mechanism to stop extractive industries when the communities oppose them. In October, Colombia's Constitutional Court ruled that Indigenous communities cannot use popular consultations as a mechanism to stop extractive projects arguing the state is the owner of all the resources in the countries subsurface. 

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