October 10, 2009

RECALCA: On the territorial minga de pensamiento, Toez, Cauca

Colombian Action Network in Response to ‘Free Trade’, RECALCA

Webpage: www.recalca.org.co

Email: recalca@etb.net.co

Indigenous Territory of Toez - Caloto, 29 September, 2009


Between the 28th and 30th of September, hundreds of indigenous peoples from the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca (ACIN), Colombia, met to debate the environmental, territorial and economic situation in Latin America, Colombia, and in their own communities. RECALCA, as a participating organization in this process, gave the following declaration at the event:

The superpowers of the world, especially the United States, the European Union and Canada, the same that have tried to sign ‘free trade agreements’ with Colombia, have found themselves struggling for control over the exploitation of natural resources and biodiversity wherever it is found.

The advance of infrastructure megaprojects – dams, highways, telecommunications projects, mining, and fossil and agro-fuels – occurs quickly and voraciously through the activities of transnational corporations with the support of governments at the service of private interests. This occurs against the sovereignty and autonomy of countries and communities, the true owners of these territories.

The pace has quickened over the past 20 years, robbing countries and generating misery, hunger and poverty for the majority of the inhabitants of Latin America. In Colombia, the situation is extreme: 4 million internally displaced, 4 million Colombians forced to leave the country, 22 million living in poverty and 8 million homeless.

If that weren’t enough, the government of Álvaro Uribe Vélez has signed ‘Free Trade Agreements’, at the behest of companies from these countries, to ensure control over natural resources, food and inexpensive labour. This project goes against indigenous, Afro-descendent and peasant communities, workers in the fields and in the cities, students, women, average citizens and national companies. It is a project of re-colonization, not unlike that from which all of the Americas suffered during the Spanish colonization.

The Cauca Department, and especially its indigenous territories, is one of the primary targets of the FTAs and the transnational corporations. In these territories, there is an abundance of resources: water, arable land for agriculture, rich biodiversity, coal, gold and other minerals.

The principal priority of the government of Álvaro Uribe Vélez, as demonstrated by its actions over the last 7 years, is to hand this territory over on a silver platter to foreign capital through policies such as ‘Investor Confidence’ and ‘Democratic Security’. Feigning to minimize the effects of the armed conflict, the government has increased its military presence in the region, repressing all expressions of social organization and resistance to neoliberalism and, in so doing, opening the way for the penetration of big extractive and agro-fuel companies.

The submission of the government of Uribe Vélez to the interests of Empire pushes forward the destruction of democracy and national institutions, stigmatizing and persecuting critics of his policies. Moreover, he is perpetuating his power in order to continue this project, which successively diminishes national sovereignty to the point that he is willing to give 7 military bases to the United States, so they can continue their intervention in Colombia and expand into other South American countries.

The only way out for indigenous, Afro-Colombian and peasant communities in Cauca is to strengthen their resistance against this model, defending their ‘life projects’ within their territories and without falling into appeasements meant to ruin us. An important example of this is that – through resistance – the Social and Community Minga has enjoyed important victories with its 5-point agenda. Through this agenda, the Rural Development Statute came down, and not a single FTA negotiated by the government has been ratified.

What is required is an expansion of the unity of all democratic sectors in Colombia and Latin America, an unavoidable precondition for reversing neoliberalism and the recuperation of sovereignty. May the project at the service of all triumph.

* RECALCA brings together the 53 most important social and worker organizations in Colombia to coordinate strategies of education, information and mobilization against the Free Trade Agreements pushed forward by the national government.

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