[ 07/24/2008] [ Source: Tejido de Comunicación ACIN ] [ Author: ACIN] [Translation: María de La Chiva] [Original: http://www.nasaacin.org/noticias.htm?x=8288]
The fear that we have today is not only due to the presence of outsiders in our territories and their probable return in tandem with public forces in order to obtain their objectives, but also for all of the acts of terror and war in Northern Cauca, acts which are intensifying every day in order to displace us and facilitate the entry of transnationals wishing to exploit our resources.
In Northern Cauca, the Comprehensive Plan of Aggression in the mark of Plan Colombia II is making itself felt at an ever growing rate. The strategies of War and Terror, Economic Subjugation and Propaganda are already being exercised simultaneously.
As an example, we point to the ongoing clashes between armed groups in Reserves like Corinto and Huellas Caloto, clashes which put the civilian population that lives and travels through these territories at high risk. On July 23rd there was heavy fighting in the village of Pajarito, in the Huellas Caloto Reserve. In addition, public forces surrounded peoples’ homes, and due to the confusion and danger created by the fighting, the community was obliged to gather in the permanent assembly areas, where more than 200 adults and children registered themselves. In addition, on June 24th in the morning there was more fighting in the same village, forcing students to return home in order to protect themselves from the crossfire of the shots being fired.
At the same time, transnational companies are entering into our lands as if it was their own property, taking advantage of the terror to which our people are subjected because of the continuous state of war in which our communities are living. In the late afternoon of June 23rd in the Delicias Reserve, 12 people identifying themselves as employees of Cosigo Resources Limited -a Canadian mining company- were surveying the caves in Mirasoles, near Cerro Catalina.
“At 2:00pm yesterday, the Indigenous Council of the Delicias Reserve received a call from Afro-Colombians from Mirasoles, who were at the foot of Cerro Catalina, informing us that there were outsiders in our territory. We left immediately, and in half an hour arrived in the area. When we arrived we found 12 people: some from Bogotá, some from Buenaventura, and there were even some indigenous people from Amazonas, from Leticia specifically, who identified themselves as members of the community of Miraña,” explained a member of the Council in Delicias.
When the Council members showed up in the area where this group of people was located, they saw that the Afro-Colombian community had already detained, surrounded and begun interrogating them, but the group did not want to give much information until the Indigenous people showed up and presented themselves as part of the Council Authority.
“They told us that they belonged to a mining company called Cosigo Resources Ltd. and that was when we started to enter into discussion with them. As authorities, we told them that we aren’t going to let anyone into our territory without previous permission, or without our consent, that we have rights as indigenous people, and that in addition we have an agreement with the Municipality of Suarez for the respect of our territory,” added another member of the Council.
During the dialogue, the spokesman for the 12 outsiders told the community members that were present that they had already asked the Municipality for permission to enter two months ago, that they are aware of the process that they are following, and that the leader of their group was in that very moment meeting with the Mayor. Given this situation, the Council got directly in touch with the Secretary of Government, who claimed to have no information about what was going on, and then with the Mayor’s office, where they also claimed not to know anything about the situation.
The Traditional Authority in charge of the Council of Delicias proceeded to ask the Mayor to order the 12 people off of the territory, and have them taken to the offices of the Council. The Mayor then spoke by telephone to the leader of the group, and asked them to leave immediately, because he had no information about what they were doing there. Finally, at 5:00pm, they were required to leave the site and the Afro-Colombian community members accompanied them to a river to ensure that they left the area.
“It is clear that these people were trying to carry out a sample study or prospecting on a concession that the government has given to Cosigo Resources Limited. We were looking at the maps on the internet and we observed that there is a concession that runs the entire perimeter of Cerro Catalina, in addition to entering within various areas of our Reserve, and inside the Indigenous mining zone [a territorial expanse defined within the Mining Code as an area where Indigenous people have priority for all mining activity],” explained an indigenous community member.
These acts concern the community due of the effects such a company can cause after the enter the territory. For this reason, on July 24th, the communities met and reflected upon what happened the day before, and they have planned to attend the meeting on July 26th, called by the Mayor of Suárez, Luis Fernando Colorado, which will include Afro-Colombian communities, Indigenous people and small scale miners, with the goal of analyzing the situation together.
Given these facts, the Afro and Indigenous Communities that live on these territories are worried, and call out to human rights organizations to denounce these acts, to accompany in whatever way possible our organizational processes, and to investigate the circumstances that are affecting these communities in Suárez, Cauca. Because our fear is not only the intrusion of outsiders onto our territory and their possible return with public forces in order to reach their goal, but all of the terror and war that we are living in Northern Cauca, which is intensifying every day to displace us and facilitate the entry of transnationals wishing to exploit our resources.
Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca - ACIN
Santander de Quilchao, Cauca, July 24, 2008