Colombian Police Shoot Indigenous People During Land Ceremony

11 May 2017
Author(s)
teleSUR / jc-RSF
ACIN activists rush an injured man to a hospital after being attacked by Colombian police. | Photo: Twitter / Congreso de los Pueblos
ACIN activists rush an injured man to a hospital after being attacked by Colombian police. | Photo: Twitter / Congreso de los Pueblos

Colombia’s Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca, ACIN, announced in a press release on Tuesday that recent police aggression involving a firearm resulted in one death and two injuries. 

ACIN claims three police trucks approached a “Liberation of Mother Earth” action in Corinto, dedicated to promoting environmentalism and Indigenous people’s rights to their ancestral lands, and opened fire. 

Felipe Castro Basto, a resident of Cauca’s San Pedro community, died as a result of his injuries, Colombia Informa reported. He died while being transferred to a medical facility in the nearby city of Cali.

Both injured activists are community landholders.

“We denounce on this day, May 9, 2017, that the National Police Force has launched attacks against indigenous communities,” ACIN said in its statement.

Information about the attack was confirmed by Aida Quilcue, a representative of the Senior Council of the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia, ONIC. Social organizations like the People's Congress denounced the incident and shared images of the attack's aftermath on Twitter and other social media.

Since October 2014, ACIN has promoted “Liberation of Mother Earth” events to address the absence of agrarian policy in Colombia. The organization claims that the high concentration of land in Colombia and its inaccessibility to Indigenous, Black and campesino communities justify their protests. 

ACIN deems it necessary to “liberate them from the kidnapping and exploitation” to which they are subjected.

“Mining, the agribusiness and sugarcane biofuel industry, the armed conflict and illicit crops are killing Mother Earth,” ACIN added. 

“She can’t take any more; nor can our children, who we defend and protect.”

On Saturday, the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca, CRIC, issued a statement outlining why community members should initiate a process of “liberation and harmonization with Mother Earth.”

CRIC claimed that the government’s failure to comply with agreements made to Indigenous communities in the department of Cauca has generated a systematic weakening of their people. These failures, according to the organization, result in the “cultural and physical elimination of those peoples.”