The blockade of the Pan-American highway might be extended to other roads in the country.
Thousands of Colombian Indigenous peoples and farmers paralyzed for the 6th day on a row the Cauca Valley main roads. Due to the intensity of the clashes with the Mobile Anti-Disturbances Squadron (ESMAD) and the National Army, the Indigenous organizations rejected claims that illegal groups are financing their protest.
"We clarify before the public opinion that the ongoing protest has not been, is not, and will not be financed by any legal or illegal armed group, such as the National Liberation Army (ELN)," the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC) said in a statement published on its website on Saturday.
CRIC denounced that mainstream media are trying to link the Indigenous peoples and farmer protest to the Colombian guerrillas in order to deprive the mobilization of its legitimacy. They also stated that the demonstration will remain until President Ivan Duque agrees to talk directly with them.
At Saturday noon, about 2,000 Indigenous people remained on the road connecting Neiva City with La Plata Town, while other 8,000 protesters were traveling to the Santander municipality. Despite the roadblocks, the demonstrators have allowed ambulances and other public vehicles to mobilize pregnant women and other kinds of patients.
"Cajibio, Cauca, Colombia: public security forces burn the Minga Social camp. Farmers and Indigenous peoples are mobilizing for the defense of their lands and demanding a meeting with President Ivan Duque."
Among the requests the Indigenous peoples make to the Federal government are the Havanna Peace Agreement implementation, more security protections for social leaders and a debate of the National Development Plan, a request which could "push the state to recognize their ancestral territories," Sputnik reported and added that the Indigenous peoples also seek that President Duque "does not commit to sponsoring an intervention in Venezuela."
Clashes between protesters and public security forces have left at least 13 wounded, six of whom are in serious health conditions. Despite this fierce government crackdown, the Indigenous and farmers organizations have warned that the blockade of the Pan-American highway, where around 50,000 vehicles transit every day, might be extended to other roads in the country.
"We demand from the media a truthful information, which presents to citizens the underlying reasons that motivate the "Minga in Defense of Life, Territory, Democracy, Justice and Peace," CRIC said and explained that the ongoing demonstration also includes "more than 10 municipalities at the Cauca Valley and thousands of farmers who belong to the Colombian Southwest Popular Unity Process (PUPSOC) and the National Agrarian Coordinator (CNA)."