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News > Colombia

Colombian Police Kill Indigenous Protester at Cauca Valley

  • A march organized by indigenous peoples and farmers at the Cauca Valley, Colombia, March 2, 2019.

    A march organized by indigenous peoples and farmers at the Cauca Valley, Colombia, March 2, 2019. | Photo: Twitter/ @ONIC_Colombia

Published 2 April 2019

The nation-wide protest called by the Colombian Indigenous peoples and farmers continues amid a heavy police crackdown.

Colombia's Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC) denounced Tuesday that the Mobile Anti-Disturbances Squadron (ESMAD) killed a farmer during a violent attack on a demonstration that was taking place at the municipality of Cairo, in the Cauca Valle Department.

Colombia: Indigenous Community Suspends Talks with President

Those who witnessed the police repression reported that the victim was Breiner Yunda Camayo, a farmer from the Resguardo Indigenous Community who received a bullet impact and died instantly. According to a CRIC press release, Colombian security forces entered the "Minga for Live" camp from early morning hours. Among the first wounded were Camilo Muñoz, who was hit with a dispersion device, and Yesid Andres Camargo who received three impacts on the hip, shoulder and left hand.

"At 9:28 people reported about the overflight of reconnaissance drones and the launching of gas and pellets against areas surrounding the camp," the CRIC stated and pointed out that the presence of armed civilians and state's security forces "is against any dialogue process and against the safety and life of every person in the camp."

Yunda Camayo, the 20-year-old farmer who received a bullet that destroyed his chest, died while his friends were transferring him to a health center located at the municipality of Piendamo.

"The feeling of pain, which is being breathed in the minguero's gathering points, does not obscure the firmness with which the mobilization takes place," a local media Colombia Plural reported and added that the idea which prevails is that "unity will bring good fruits for communities overwhelmed by violence."

“I condemn the murder of Breiner Yunda Camayo, an indigenous farmer from the Jebala Resguardo. [President] Ivan Duque must guarantee social and peaceful mobilization as a fundamental right. I ask him to listen to the National Minga for Life and look for a solution. No more deaths!”

The "Minga for Defending Life, Territory, Democracy, Justice and Peace" is a collective action that began on March 10 with gatherings and demonstrations at the Cauca and Huila departments. Besides rejecting President Ivan Duque's neoliberal policies, the Minga demands that the Colombian State complies with the previous agreements reached with social and political movements.

The Cauca’s communities have raised four main demands: the respect to their rights to land and autonomous government; the delivery of public resources for boosting their local economies; their right to be consulted about government decisions which could affect their territories or environment; and the real implementation of the Havana peace agreements.

Negotiated under the Juan Manuel Santos' presidency (2010-2018), these agreements seek to regulate the presence of paramilitary and insurgent forces in the Cauca Valley. Despite this intention, the violence against the Colombian indigenous and peasants has continued and even increased.

According to the Indigenous spokespersons, at least 527 social leaders have been murdered nationwide. About 30 percent of them were killed in the Cauca region and, as legal investigation has revealed, 44 percent of those killings were perpetrated by the Colombian Army.

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