The Price of Our Struggle

The Price of Our Struggle: Individuals and Groups, using threats and dirty war, seek to silence us

Action Alert

Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca (ACIN)

October 29, 2005

The Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca (ACIN) –CXAB WALA KIWE, announces the following to national and international public opinion.

1. In the past several days, a wave of threats has fallen over various of our community members, leaders, and authorities. To us this translates to a clear message that there are those who seek to destabilize the process of the indigenous communities in the northern zone of the department of Cauca.
2. While we had believed and hoped that the enemies of our process had desisted from their irrational pretensions, we have to inform the public of the false accusations against our co-coordinator of Communications in ACIN, Emmanuel Rozental. Persons, some of whom remain unknown to date, have falsely accused him of being an ‘international terrorist’, while others accuse him of being a ‘CIA agent’. This unfortunate situation, which escalated to threats on his life, has obliged our companion to flee the country.
3. The recent threat against our companion, as with other threats, is a premeditated strategy seeking to silence us in the moment that our land struggle for the Liberation of Mother Earth is growing in force, a force which will add to the Indigenous and Popular Congress that will be meeting soon in different parts of the country.

Our struggle is for life, justice, joy, and liberty. We walk this path with others throughout the country, not leading or giving orders but because the time to step up and seek a new country – one that is possible, necessary, and just - is now.

We organized the Popular Consultation on the Free Trade Agreement and the people said NO. The world bore witness to the transparency and validity of the process and the country realized that the people could call for and realize truly democratic processes, exercising their legitimate right to choose, despite the desires of the powerful. Today the consultation has multiplied into a series of consultations and the peoples have said NO to the FTA. The politicians have disobeyed the peoples.

From the force of our hearts we cry out for the Freedom for Mother Earth, and this seed has grown and given fruit. Those who concentrate the land in few hands and steal from the people to kill them are in the government. They obey the dictates of the US and the multinationals. We will not tolerate this any longer.

They threaten us because we practice what we speak of, because we defend Life. They try to silence us by using weapons, threats, intrigue, and dirty war instead of arguments. They believe, wrongly, that the force of our ideas and words can be supplanted by the exercise of illegitimate force. That is why they threaten Manuel Rozental, Alcibiades Escue, Ezequiel Vitonas, Manuel Santos Poto, Luis Acosta, Guiberto Munoz, Omar Vitonas and so many others. They are convinced that ordering their deaths will silence them, but they are wrong because the words and actions belong to all. They belong to the community, they belong to the Mandate, they belong to the Indigenous and Popular Congress, to Mother Earth, to our freedom.

We demand:

Respect for all. Manuel is no terrorist. He is no paramilitary. He is no agent of the CIA. He is a part of our community who must not be silenced by bullets. He is a part of our community who fulfills the responsibilities delegated to him by the organization and the Assembly of the indigenous process, who fulfills those demands and so demonstrates his commitment to life.

Manuel should be with us. While we await his rapid physical return, he will continue to be with us, in the territory, in the mountains, in life, because we know his heart is here. We are one part of the struggle for freedom for mother earth. We call for and demand the solidarity of the country and the world because none of us should have to be murdered, expelled, or defamed. It is neither just nor natural that they take away from us our being, our land, and we demand the right to remain alive and whole.

This situation represents a high risk and danger for those threatened and our process. The Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca (ACIN) Cxab Wala Kiwe is on alert. We demand the National Government, Human Rights Organizations, People’s Ombudsman, and other organizations, seek mechanisms to prevent the consummation of the threats of death against our community members. The threats are put out by people and groups who remain unidentified. The repetition of false rumours constitutes a death sentence against our people and a crime against our struggle for freedom for mother earth.

The Indigenous Authorities of Northern Cauca. Santander de Quilichao, Cauca, Colombia, October 27, 2005.