A Colombian paramilitary group known as the ‘Aguilas Negras’ (Black Eagles) spread pamphlets in the northern Guajira department threatening human rights defenders and Indigenous organizations working in the region.
“We arrived to La Guajira to defend our sovereignty from the corrupt who call themselves defenders of Mother Earth (Pacha Mama) against human rights defenders that only hinder the country’s progress. We will clean the department of this scum,” says the pamphlet, signed by the Central Bloc of the Black Eagles.
The threats were explicitly directed at the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), the Wayuu Nation, the local Wayuu Araurayu and the Wayuu Women Strength, and come at a time when key struggles and processes are at stake.
The ONIC denounced the threats, which come just before President Ivan Duque's visit to the region and a Constitutional Court and Public Ministry hearing regarding compliance with the T-302 verdict on health and childhood malnutrition.
Duque and government officials will visit the region during workshops and discussion boards prepared in La Guajira, led by Karen Abudinen, chief regional councilor. The events aim to provide a platform for local demands.
The threats also come in the context of a legislative discussion on the Law Project 134 of 2018 arising from a previous referendum.
Indigenous lawmakers and supporters are demanding Congress back track on it, as they claim the bill was developed without consulting Indigenous communities and it hampers their participation in the democratic process.
Also, Indigenous organizations are holding ongoing agreement negotiations with the national government during the Day of Peoples’ Resistance, celebrated on Oct. 12, and as the ONIC is supporting the students’ demand for better public education.
The ONIC demanded the government of Duque, the interior and defense ministers, the public defender, and other local authorities to increase their efforts to protect Indigenous organizations.
Paramilitary groups such as the Black Eagles often use pamphlets to spread their messages in rural areas. These can’t often be confirmed, but given the perilous violence environmental and human rights activists in Colombia have been experiencing, organizations are taking no chances.