July 3, 2008

Once Again, Blood Taints Mother Earth

Written by Association of Indigenous Authorities of Northern Cauca - ACIN.
3 July 2008
Translated by La Chiva

Another 26 indigenous Nasa have been injured during the Ritual of the Liberation of Mother Earth, led by indigenous communities and their authorities in Northern Cauca who, yesterday, pacifically occupied the hacienda La Emperatriz, demanding that the national government comply with its unfulfilled promises, including those made after the El Nilo Massacre of 1991.

Early this morning (July 3, 2008), when hundreds of community members from indigenous reserves in the region began to cut down sugarcane [a monocrop being grown extensively in the region to satisfy the needs of the 'biofuel' industry] and plant their own crops, they were brutally attacked by the public forces.

During this legitimate protest, the ESMAD [Colombia's version of a SWAT team] came down with full force against the community engaged in the Liberation of Mother Earth, leaving 26 community members wounded. Among those injured are three minors nursing bullet wounds: Fransisco Ul Noscué, San Francisco Reserve, wounded in the left leg; Eduardo Marino Tenorio, Toribío Reserve, wounded in the right buttock; and Diego Pazú, Huellas Caloto Reserve, has wounds in both of his legs. The majority of the injuries resulted from shrapnel and apparatuses attached to tear gas canisters, one of which cost Aldemar Ramos, from Huellas Reserve, the fingers of his right hand.

Not content with attacking those at La Emperatriz, the ESMAD simultaneously attacked community members in the area not involved in the Liberation. One such example is that of Rafael Coicué, Captain of the Corinto Authority, who was wounded while en route to Santander de Quilichao to continue working on the Authority's plans for a Public Hearing to be held tomorrow in Corinto.

Rafael Coicué was riding his motorcycle when he was hit in his left eye by an unidentified object launched by the ESMAD. At the present time, he is hospitalized in the San José hospital in Popayán, waiting to be seen by a specialist.

We denounce before the national and international communities that the tragedies experienced today by indigenous communities could have been much worse. In the village of La Selva, along the road connecting Santander de Quilichao with Corinto, several explosive devices were found. Fortunately, they were discovered and reported by indigenous authorities in the presence of representatives of the Provincial Attorney's office of Santander de Quilichao, the Human Rights Ombudsman, and the Human Rights and Public Audience Commission of the Republic to the Provincial Attorney's office of Santander de Quilichao and the corresponding authorities, who responded to the report and proceeded to disarm the explosives.

Finally, we call on all social and popular sectors and human rights organizations to accompany the processes of the Liberation of Mother Earth, to bring visibility to our ancestral mandate: Liberating Mother Earth in defence of life, territory and self-determination.

Association of Indigenous Authorities of Northern Cauca -ACIN

Santander de Quilichao, July 3rd, 2008.

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