The Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective proclaims its wholehearted solidarity with the people of Cauca currently participating in the “minga” or mass mobilizing to protect their land from extractive mining, demand more public investment for rural and indigenous areas, demand that the peace accords be implemented and protest the extrajudicial killings of nearly 100 social leaders since 2016 - 44 of which were carried out by members of the Colombian military.
Over the past sixteen days, indigenous, afro-colombians and farmers from Cauca have occupied the Pan-American highway in defense of “life, territory, democracy, justice and peace.” This effort has been led by the Consejo Regional Indigena del Cauca (CRIC), and is emblematic of a centuries-long struggle against imperial and colonial rule, and is supported by both rural and popular organizations who are committed to protecting the rights of small-scale farmers. Indigenous peoples are calling on the Colombian government and multinational corporations to respect their land rights and stop ongoing political violence and repression.
We are extremely concerned by President Duque’s refusal to engage personally in peaceful dialogues with the people of Cauca. Instead, in an ironic response to requests to end repression and violence, these democratic protests are being met with excessive force by the Colombian Anti-Riot police (ESMAD).
What should be of major concern to U.S citizens,is that many of the munitions that are used to violently suppress the protesters and repress social manifestations throughout the country are imported from the U.S. The munition canisters are inscribed with the insignia of the Combined Tactical Systems (CTS) line of US security products company Combined Systems, Inc. (CSI) which is based out of Pennsylvania. Already, at least 16 people have been reported injured.
The Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective condemns this violent response and the ongoing neocolonial policies that support and maintain unequal land distribution and repression of activists who seek progressive change.
We continue to support those who exercise their right to protest, acknowledging that the widespread violence perpetrated by state security forces and organized crime are exacerbated by U.S. policies that promote exploitation and militarization in Colombia.
We support all in Cauca who are working for a more equitable future despite ongoing repression. We urge the Colombian Government to honor the Havana Peace Accords, specifically point 2.2.2 on guarantees for mobilization and peaceful protest and adhere to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which asserts their right of self-determination and practice of indigenous visions of development and peace.
From obstructing the full implementation of the Havana Peace Accords, to funding the Colombian military, the U.S is intimately involved in exacerbating the conditions that the peoples of Cauca are now resisting. As U.S citizens we must be in solidarity with the Minga and hold our government accountable.
Take action by calling on officials within the US State Department and congressional leadership to pressure the Colombian government to reach a peaceful solution to the genuine problems raised by the Minga.