Another social leader killed in Colombia since the alleged peace agreement: that makes 1270!


On 24 January 2022, the Nasa man and former coordinator of the indigenous guard, defender of life and human rights José Albeiro Camayo Guetiowas killed in Cauca (Colombia), just 10 days aftre another youngster was assassinated in the same community. As denounced by the Ancestral Territory Las Delicia- ACIN, behind this and other deaths are «private sectors with interests in the exploitation and extraction of our natural resources».

These deaths are in addition to the more than 314 members of the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca – CRIC murdered in indigenous territories in the last 3 years, and belonging to the Nasa people. What is certain is that this is one more of the 1270 leaders assassinated in Colombia since the so-called Peace Agreement was signed in November 2016. The death of two people hurts. It hurts the death of indigenous people. Unarmed. It hurts the death of a leader of a people in the peaceful defence of what is theirs, of their territory. It hurts 530 years later. But above all it hurts that there are so many, that there are 1270 in 6 years, in such an unpunished way, and it hurts that they call it a PEACE PROCESS!!!!

As reported by Indepaz, since the signing of the peace agreement in November 2016 to November 2021:

  • 1270 leaders have been assassinated.
  • 299 signatories to the peace agreement have been assassinated.
  • 179 massacres have been registered between January 2020 and November 2021.
  • Communities in 115 municipalities have been systematic victims of these aggressions and armed violence.
  • More than 500 social organisations have been the victims of threats which impact at least 4,000 leaders

The following is the CRIC’s communiqué in response to the unpunished murders

The (139) Traditional Authorities of the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca CRIC – NATIONAL belonging to the 11 peoples: Ampiuille, Polindara, Nasa, Kizgo, Misak, Epedara-Siapidara, Yanakuna, Inga, Totoroez, Embera, Kokonuko jointly reject and denounce to the public opinion, national and international media the vile murder of the former coordinator of the indigenous guard, defender of life and human rights, José Albeiro Camayo Guetio, the minor Kiwe Thegnas (Indigenous Guards), environmental defender of the territory, Breiner David Cucuñame. As well as the more than 314 comrades murdered in our indigenous territories in the last three years, 98% of them belonging to the Nasa people.

We indigenous peoples have existed and survived in our territories for thousands of years, where we have characterised ourselves as a collective political actor that builds peace and exercises territorial control far from the dynamics of war. In this exercise we have been carrying out different processes to protect and guarantee good community life, harmony and territorial balance from our own government within the framework of our autonomy and self-determination, with a firm and clear position to protect life against the presence of armed actors, illegal economies, forced recruitment of minors, extortion, murders against community members, indigenous guards and traditional authorities, among other disharmonies.

On January 24, 2022, during the afternoon and evening, the community, the Thuthenas, the Authorities of the Indigenous Reserve of Las Delicias and the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca – ACIN denounced the armed attack against the territory, the community and the indigenous guard that resulted in the assassination of the person who in life represented our collective peace body of the indigenous guard. These armed actors, who appeared in the reconfiguration of territorial control for the control of drug trafficking routes and other illicit activities after the signing and non-compliance of the Peace Agreement, are responsible for more than 350 murders of community members, leaders, human rights defenders and indigenous authorities.

Albeiro Camayo was an accredited victim of the armed conflict in Colombia; his case was prioritised in the Special Jurisdiction for Peace. Today, he transcends to another space without having had access to truth, justice and reparation for the acts of which he was a victim.

The attack on our comrade is not an isolated incident, it is due, as we have denounced on countless occasions, to a policy of physical, cultural and spiritual extermination against indigenous peoples, constituting a systematic, generalised and widespread genocide in our territory at the hands of armed groups, with the acquiescence of the State.

After the ambush on the community and the murder of Albeiro Camayo, the minors Arlin Camayo and Breiner Camayo, son and nephew of Albeiro, were kidnapped during their escape. They were also forced to transport the suitcases and rifles of this armed actor. Due to pressure from the community and the Kiwe Thegnas in the area, the children were released and handed over to their families.

This devastating balance leaves in evidence the instrumentalisation and subjugation of minors in the growing curve of the exacerbation of the internal armed conflict, and it is another example of State indifference and complicity, as the lack of an immediate, effective and differential formal response from the competent bodies has a direct impact on the increase of the strong aggressions against indigenous children and adolescents who also play an active role as defenders of life, territory and human rights.

Nevertheless, the attack continued at 10: 00 am on 25 January 2022 with the publication of a pamphlet signed by the self-styled «Western Coordinating Command of the Jaime Martínez Mobile Column / Dagoberto Ramos Mobile Column of the FARC-EP» in this communication the armed group intends to usurp the ancestral and legitimate exercise of self-government in our territories by making slanderous accusations against our Kiwe Thegnas, Authorities and our organisational process in order to justify the bloodshed that they have caused in our communities and other social sectors present in the Department of Cauca, which we have categorically rejected their presence and actions in our territories.

In this sense, we will continue to defend our structures of self-government, our ancestry and our territory in the light of the mandates issued by our communities, and we reaffirm as collective subjects our rejection of all armed actors, from the awareness that an armed subject lacking a political basis that defends the interests of a narco-paramilitary state and private sectors, that kills and condemns our children to war, will not be able to come to our territory to talk to us about living well.

The absence, indifference and omission of the State will continue to be the most lethal weapon against the communities; in the indigenous territories, it is not only the war that bleeds us, but also hunger, the lack of opportunities, the lack of health posts, educational centres and access roads, and the lack of a real human rights policy that effectively protects the lives of leaders and human rights defenders of the indigenous peoples.

In the midst of deep sadness and indignation at the systematic murder of our indigenous comrades and the collective extermination of our communities, but also from the strength of the unity of the indigenous peoples grouped in the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca – CRIC, we call on the international community to assume an active role in the promotion, protection and defence of the human rights of indigenous peoples in Colombia, especially in the department of Cauca.

Every day, community members of the native peoples bravely defend their territory, their community, their customs and the right of our peoples to live in peace. In this struggle for the defence of good living from our community life plans, we have been discriminated against and marginalised by the institutions of the Colombian state at the municipal, departmental and national levels, which are increasingly absent in their obligation to provide guarantees for the exercise of human rights and indifferent to the bloodshed of our people and our mother earth.

It is for this reason that we call on the international community to accompany the indigenous community of Las Delicias in Norte del Cauca and its authorities, who at this moment are at imminent risk of being assassinated at the hands of the armed actors present in the territory, from all its levels and organisms, and to make a pronouncement on the events that are currently causing grief to the community, the massacres that have occurred in the department of Cauca, the absence of the national government in the territory and the lack of collective protection measures with a differential approach for our authorities, leaders, human rights defenders and the community.

In the same way, we ask the United Nations and the Organisation of American States, through the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, to carry out an on-site verification commission on the serious human rights situation that the indigenous communities of the department of Cauca are facing, especially in the North, Northeast, Inland, Cauca Boot and West zones, which have been hard hit in recent months by the criminal and paramilitary actions of the armed actors. Consequently, methodological routes, procedures and urgent protection mechanisms should be established with the organisations for the timely protection of the indigenous communities of Cauca, such as the granting of precautionary measures for the protection of the family, children and adolescents of the indigenous organisation and of the peoples, authorities and community by the Colombian State in a concerted manner.

We urge the international community to install a permanent humanitarian observatory that will be present in the territory in order to provide constant accompaniment to the communities and serve as guarantors in the face of serious human rights violations. We also call on the international community to generate and strengthen direct coordination with indigenous organisations in the framework of the implementation of the ethnic chapter of the Peace Accords and at the same time to be aware of the peace initiatives being developed by the indigenous peoples so that the efforts and collaboration of the international community in the consolidation of a stable and lasting peace in Colombia are reflected in the improvement of the living conditions of the communities and do not continue to strengthen the system of corruption of the current Colombian government.

We hold the paramilitary groups gathered in the Western Coordinating Command and others, the private sectors with interests in the exploitation and extraction of our natural resources, the Colombian state and its institutions responsible for all the human rights violations that continue to occur in the territory that seek to destabilise and exterminate the exercise of the indigenous peoples’ own, ancestral and legitimate government.

Finally, we reaffirm the declaration of the humanitarian emergency in the indigenous territories of the department of Cauca and we declare ourselves in permanent assembly. We warn of the imminent risk to the community, the Authorities and the collective peace corps of the indigenous guard due to the presence of armed groups after the actions of the Special Indigenous Jurisdiction and the exercise of territorial control.

26 JANUARY 2022


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