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Colombia’s Indigenous Organization Under Threat by Paramilitary

“We arrived to La Guajira to defend our sovereignty from the corrupt who call themselves defenders of Mother Earth that only hinder the country’s progress." A Colombian paramilitary group known as the ‘Aguilas Negras’ (Black Eagles) spread pamphlets in the northern Guajira department threatening human rights defenders and indigenous organizations working in the region.

Roberto Pocaterra Pocaterra

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“We arrived to La Guajira to defend our sovereignty from the corrupt who call themselves defenders of Mother Earth or Pacha Mama or human rights defenders that only hinder the country’s progress. We will clean the department of this scum,” says the pamphlet, signed by the Central Block of the Black Eagles.

Roberto Pocaterra

The threats were explicitly directed to the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), the Wayuu Nation, the local Wayuu Araurayu and the Wayuu Women Strength, and come at a time in which key struggles and processes are at stake

The ONIC denounced the threats come just before the visit of President Ivan Duque to the region and the hearing of the Constitutional Court and the Public Ministry, regarding the monitoring of the T-302 Sentence on health and childhood malnutrition

Duque and government officials will visit the region during workshops and discussion boards prepared in La Guajira, lead by Karen Abudinen, chief regional councilor. The events aim to provide a platform for local demands

The threats also come in the context of a legislative discussion on the Law Project 134 of 2018 on a  previous consultation

Indigenous lawmakers and supporters are demanding Congress backtrack on it, as they claim the bill was developed without consulting indigenous communities and it hampers their participation in the democratic processes

Also, indigenous organizations are holding the Permanent Negotiation Table with the National government and the Day of Peoples’ Resistance, celebrated on October 12, and as the ONIC is supporting the students’ demand for better public education

The ONIC demanded the government of Duque, the interior and defense ministers, the peoples’ prosecutor and other local authorities to increase their efforts to protect the indigenous organizations

Paramilitary groups such as the Black Eagles often use pamphlets to spread their messages in rural areas. These can’t often be confirmed, but given the violent situation of environmental and human rights activists in Colombia, organizations take no chances

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