Violence, Victory, Warning: Freedom for Mother Earth and San Jose de Apartado

VIOLENCE

Here's a translation from the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado:

The Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado asks urgently for national and international solidarity. The Army has today indiscriminately bombed in Arenas Altas and Bajas. Ground troops have thrown grenades against the civilian population in this humanitarian zone. One of the grenades was thrown and hit Arlen Salas David, the coordinator of the humanitarian zone of Arenas Altas, who was working in the field. He is badly injured. A commission from the community left at 2pm to retrieve him. We are unsure if we will be able to save his life as he is very badly wounded. The indiscriminate bombings continue. We ask for urgent actions to guarantee the lives of the commission, 42 families of the humanitarian zone and the other families of Arenas, to avert a massacre.

In addition to the attack, the government has already begun to lie, with the public ombudsman and the army claiming that they killed a guerrilla with a bullet. For several weeks we have been witnesses to threats and the actions the army has conducted against this humanitarian zone. An italian commission visited us and they were able to speak to Arlen about the situation - they can testify to the threats.

Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado, November 17, 2005.

VICTORY

At the same time, according to this communique, that the Colombian military is attacking the peace community with grenades, the Colombian government is negotiating with the indigenous of northern Cauca to negotiate on the land issue, given the 'Freedom for Mother Earth' mobilizations that have been going on for over a month and specifically the land occupations in Japio, in Cauca. Despite violence, the public forces were unable to dislodge the indigenous in their occupation and have, we have heard, opted to talk. While this is of course a victory for the persistence of those who organized for 'Freedom for Mother Earth', the violence in San Jose de Apartado on the same day might lead to the suspicion that the government might not negotiate in good faith. Striking at one community while talking to another is a disrespect to all.

WARNING

Still, what has happened in Japio with 'Freedom for Mother Earth' has been remarkable, another achievement for the indigenous movement, as was the Popular Consultation on the FTA and the Indigenous and Popular Mandate that came at the end of the 'Minga' march in Sept/Oct 2004.

If the government does want to negotiate in good faith, it should immediately cease its aggressive actions against San Jose de Apartado. It should act in accordance with the indgenous and popular mandate:

-Open a national discussion on the indigenous popular mandate
-Hold a referendum on the FTA
-Back off the privatization of natural resources legislation and move forward on agrarian reform
-Hold a genuine truth/justice/reparations process and truly demobilize the paramilitaries.

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