Photo: Colombias Indigenous People
At least 34 of the more than 100 native ethnicities and indigenous communities living in Colombia are going through a “humanitarian crisis” and are threatened with extinction, according to the Autonomy and Rights Observatory for Colombia’s Indigenous Peoples, or ADPI.
A Colombian activist at the Observatory, Juan Manuel Avila, living in Barcelona, Spain, told Efe that Colombia’s indigenous population totals almost 1.5 million and their lifestyle is based on the principles of “balance among living creatures, harmony, give-and-take, and defense of the common good.”
But 34 of these peoples see their way of life endangered and live under the threat of their kind disappearing, as the Colombian Constitutional Court recognized in 2009. Since then, things have only gotten worse, Avila said.
ADPI is an association of organizations and individuals who work in Barcelona to defend the human rights and collectives of Colombian Indians.
Avila said these native peoples are living through a “humanitarian crisis, due chiefly to the armed conflict” between the Colombian armed forces and the FARC guerrillas, “which is being fought in some indigenous territories” and has made the Indians “victims of both sides.”
So what the indigenous movement demands, he says, is that they be “left out of the conflict and their lands demilitarized.”
Indian ethnicities have not been invited to take part in the negotiations between the government and the guerrillas, according to Avila, who says indigenous peoples like the Awa, the Nasa and the Senu particularly fear the launching of “macroprojects based on an extractive economy, because they will only generate violence for control of the territory.”
Another problem Indians have suffered is “international invisibilization” - few remember they even exist.