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  • The leader survived the attack. He had to be hospitalized due to a gunshot wound.

    The leader survived the attack. He had to be hospitalized due to a gunshot wound. | Photo: Reuters

Published 21 December 2018

The armed assault occurred hours after a paramilitary group in Cauca offered payment for anyone who killed Indigenous leaders.

Indigenous leader and human rights defender, German Valencia, was attacked by a group of at least six armed and hooded men Thursday night at his home in the Vilachi village in Cauca, Colombia.

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The incident took place around 8 p.m., after pamphlets offering rewards for the “heads” of leaders circulated around the northern part of the department. The pamphlets were allegedly signed by the Aguilas Negras (Black Eagles) paramilitary group.

Valencia, the human rights coordinator of the Association of Indigenous Cabildos of Northern Cauca, was shot in the abdomen and transferred to a nearby hospital, according to his brother Senator Feliciano Valencia.

"This is the third attack suffered as a result of his leadership inside the Resguardo de Canoas, located in this same municipality,” the senator said.

Feliciano Valencia says the attack is part of a series of threats that have circulated through pamphlets disseminated in public spaces in the municipalities of northern Cauca, which put a price on the heads of the authorities of Indigenous communities.

"German is out of danger. At this time they are evaluating and caring for him in the hospital. This is a direct attack on who has been an Indigenous guard of the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca (ACIN),” the senator wrote.

Eight months ago, German Valencia, who receives constant death threats, was targeted in another attack.

The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) said that the pamphlets, dated Dec. 18, were distributed Tuesday night.

"We denounce and reject this serious THREAT, which offers to pay money to those who threaten the lives of Indigenous leaders of northern Cauca."

According to the human rights commission of the ONIC, the pamphlet was distributed on the same day that Indigenous communities held a public audience after the leader Edwin Dagua was murdered. During the meeting, Indigenous leaders reaffirmed their sovereignty over the region.

"When these cases of death occur, and furthermore the pamphlets appear, we have doubts about what state forces are doing for security, and for that reason, the Indigenous movement has said that they are not a guarantee for us, because, in the end, we are being killed in front of the military," said Aida Quilcue, a member of the Human Rights Commission of the ONIC.

The criminal organization, funded largely by drug trafficking, claims that Indigenous leaders in Colombia are responsible for the existing conflict in the region.

"Everything that is part of a Cabildo will have its price, for each head, there is a value," the group wrote in the pamphlets.

ONIC has reported that since late 2016, when the peace agreement between the Colombian state and the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was signed, 5,730 Indigenous people have been forcibly displaced, while 8,245 are suffering from involuntary confinement. At least 10 leaders have been tortured, 25 recruited by illegal armed forces, and 65 murdered.

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