Indigenous Congressman Calls for Protection of Peasant and Indigenous Communities
News from Colombia |
on: Tuesday, 15 March 2011
Congressman Hernando Hernandez, the Representative for the Indigenous peoples in the Colombian Congress, in a March 4th statement, has called on the Colombian government to protect the victims of a series of death threats.
The threats began in February of 2011 and, according to the Congressman, are probably linked to the regional elections due in October. Between the 21st and 25th of February threats signed by the Black Eagles targeted community leaders and human rights activists from the Caguan Vive Corporation. The threats called them fronts for the militias, and associates of the FARC. The paramilitaries announced a cleansing operation would soon be carried out. On the list of names was that of Eduardo Francia Jojoa, who belongs to the leadership of the Caguan Vive Corporation, and who is also a councillor in San Vicente del Caguan for the Democratic Pole opposition political party. He is a well-known figure and highly respected for his work in the region.
On the 26th of February threats were also received in Piendamo, Cauca, signed by the “AUC Carlos Vasquez Castano emerging commando”. This threat targets 72 people the paramilitaries judge to be collaborators of the FARC and ELN. Although this threat states that it is aimed at several municipalities of Cauca, the threats are mostly aimed at the leaders of 3 peasant and indigenous communities in Cajibao. Some of them are mayoral candidates.
The threats against members of the opposition during an electoral year send a worrying signal that the paramilitaries intend to control or distort the electoral process as they have in recent years, indicating that the poliical and military influence of the paramilitaries remains intact despite official claims that they have been demobilised.