Further Attacks on Indigenous Colombians as Indigenous Leader Gunned Down

News from Colombia | on: Wednesday, 22 April 2009

A leader of the Pioya indigenous reserve in the southern Colombian region of Cauca has been assassinated after armed men forced their way into his home and shot him in the chest. Poliodoro Casso was murdered just three days after a paramilitary death list appeared in the region containing the names of 42 people living in and around the reserve. In a separate attack in the city of Cali, unknown assailants attempted to murder the wife and two children of a former indigenous Governor. Last year the family involved had been forced to flee their homes on a nearby reserve in the face of death threats.

The assassination of Mr Casso, on the night of April 18th, came just one night before paramilitaries shot and killed another indigenous man in the neighbouring region of Narino.

The Cali attack, at around midday on April 17th, saw two assassins on a motorcycle open fire on Marta Cucuname who had just picked up her 5-year-old son from school in the Siloe neighbourhood of the city. Ms Cucuname, who was also carrying her 8-month-old daughter at the time of the attack, is married to indigenous leader Jose Goyes Santacruz. In 2008 the family had fled to Cali after Mr Goyes narrowly survived an assassination attempt in the Honduras indigenous reserve, where he was Governor, in the nearby region of Morales, Cauca.

Paramilitaries apparently established where the family had fled to in January this year and since that time both Ms Cucuname and her husband have been receiving threatening phone calls and text messages. Three days after the attempt on her life yet another threat arrived, this time as a letter, in which the paramilitaries told the family to "be thankful sons of bitches that we didn't succeed on the 17th, but we scared you and the next time will be real". This threat, like those before it, has been reported to the authorities though no protection or other support has been provided to the family.

See also

April 2009, Paramilitaries Murder Indigenous Man

March 2009, Former Indigenous Governor Assassinated in Colombia

Feb 2009, Three Indigenous People Murdered in Colombia (which includes links to previous stories on indigenous issues)

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