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News > Colombia

Colombian March Grows As More Activists Join Cauca Protests

  • CRIC protests in 2017

    CRIC protests in 2017 | Photo: CRIC website

Published 27 March 2019

Campesino and Indigenous organizations from five departments join the 5,000 activist in Cauca demanding the implementation of Peace Accords.

Now in its 17th day, Colombia’s Indigenous and Campesino National March For Life is growing in numbers and momentum.

 Colombia: Indigenous Protest Enters 6th Day in Cauca

The march, organized by National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) and the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC), is gaining support as other land and human rights organizations from the departments of Cauca, Nariño, Antioquia, Choco and Putumayo demand the full implementation of the country’s 2016 Peace Accords signed between the government at the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

The Peace and Reconciliation Foundation (Pares) reports that the Indigenous Unit of the Awa People (UNIPA), the Ingas Indigenous of Putumayo, and Kamentza communities from Nariño are all joining the march that has shut down major highways south of Cali and affected traffic and transportation as far south as the border with Ecuador.

The activists are demanding that the Peace Accords signed in Havana, Cuba be fully implemented. This includes the protection of the Campesino and Indigenous social movement leaders whose lives are continually threatened by paramilitary groups and hired gunmen for their land.

"More than 420 Awa Indigenous people have been killed in recent years, more than 800 displaced between 2016 and 2019 and 64 have been threatened,” UNIPA said in a statement. “Our children suffer from malnutrition and our young people are threatened by armed groups present in the area," the Awa communique read.

Between November 2016 and 2018 over 420 activists were murdered, according to the Colombian government. The Colombian army said on Tuesday night it had found a total of four bodies that day in Buenaventura where the march is taking place.

The groups are also collectively demanding an additional US$1.46 million from the Colombian Congress that is currently debating the National Development Plan, according to El Tiempo. ONIC and CRIC say that the extra money would go to CRIC and land rights organizations in the Huila and Risaralda departments.  

CRIC announces a press conference for Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Since the march began some three weeks ago the Colombian military has attacked demonstrators several times. On March 19 the Mobile Anti-Disturbances Squadron (ESMAD) and the National Army opened fire on protesters in La Augustina, south of Cali injuring at least three people, according to CRIC.

The organization says security forces have fired tear gas, grenades, bullets and short and long range weapons at the march participants.

"To date, more 35 criminal reports have been made, including against the detainment of 13 marchers,” said CRIC in a communique. At least 10 Indigenous community members have been murdered by the state forces that have injured another 15.

Colombian President Ivan Duque who currently trying to amend and weaken the accord through a legislative process, has said he won’t meet with the more representatives of the now more than 5,000 marchers until they reopen the highway.

CRIC leader Aida Quilcue responded Monday saying, "We have been clear. If you tell us when the president will arrive, we’ll consider opening the road."​​​​​​​

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