Thousands of indigenous activists gathered yesterday for a protest in northern Cauca department, part of a nationwide day of indigenous mobilizations to commemorate what we in the United States call “Columbus Day.”
By several accounts, as the protests – and accompanying road blockages – entered a second day, the Colombian government has begun responding violently.
The worst case appears to be in La MarÃa, in the municipality of PiendamÃ³, in Cauca department. Information received so far has been sketchy, but the Cauca Regional Indigenous Council (CRIC) reports that Colombian security forces have fired into a crowd, wounding as many as twenty-five people, some very seriously.
It is unclear what is going on, but our inbox is filling up with alerts. A main source of information, the website of the Indigenous Cabildos of Northern Cauca (ACIN), has been down – and reportedly blocked – since late this morning.
Meanwhile El Tiempo, Colombia’s largest newspaper, has nothing about the events in Cauca. Instead, its website is featuring soccer news on its front page, along with an article exhorting readers to wash their hands before eating, and an article about a man in Florida who tried to pay for his food with marijuana.
Update 7:20 PM: El Tiempo is now running anÂ EFE storyÂ giving a figure of 30 wounded.
Updates 11:30 AM 10/15: The situation looks pretty bad. “Violent assault on indigenous people in La MarÃa – PiendamÃ³,” reads a bulletin posted this morning to the CRIC website:
On October 15 at 5:30 AM, the Army, Police and ESMAD (the National Police’s feared Mobile Anti-Disturbances Squadron) are violently evicting the indigenous comuneros who had been peacefully waiting in La MarÃa for the government to meet with them.
The security forces entered shooting with long-range weapons, and there are already three people seriously wounded. The military forces have already entered the territory of dialogue and negotiation.
It is urgently requested that international organizations work to slow this violence. And that the indigenous communities reinforce the personnel who are being attacked.
It is urgent, compaÃ±eros, so far there are 39 wounded since yesterday, one dead and more arriving at the health posts, there is fear for disappeared people, since there are armed civilians surrounding La MarÃa.
There is official knowledge on the part of the High Council of the CRIC, the the ESMAD killed, with a machete, an indigenous comunero and left his body on the side of the bridge … also an ambulance carrying several of those afected has been kept from arriving at the health post. The indigenous people are bing chased through the nearby coffee fields by the security forces who are using rifles. This constitutes a SERIOUS HUMAN RIGHTS AND INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW VIOLATION.
- CNN: One dead, 50 hurt in Colombian clashes
- NASA-ACIN: Ahora mismo se ejecuta el Asalto militar
- CRIC/ONIC: Las Ã³rdenes del General: nos va a matar esta noche
- El Tiempo: Autoridades recuperan el control de la vÃa Panamericana, que estaba bloqueada por miles de indÃgenas
- AP: Enfrentamientos entre indÃgenas y policÃas
- BBC: IndÃgenas bloquean vÃas
- El Espectador: Farc habrÃan infiltrando protestas indÃgenas en la VÃa Panamericana