Bogota – Thousands of members of indigenous communities in Colombia flocked to Bogota on Sunday to demand a meeting with President Ivan Duque and denounce the wave of violence shaking their territories.
“We ask for guarantees for life (…) and that they respect the peace agreements“Agreed in 2016 with the former Farc guerrillas,” Hermes Pete, head of the Indigenous Regional Council of Cauca State, told AFP.
The protest movement began on October 10 in southwestern Colombia and gradually moved towards the capital.
Some 7,500 members of indigenous communities have arrived in Bogota.
Limited offer. 2 months for 1 € without commitment
Presidential adviser Miguel Ceballos nevertheless asserted that it was not possible to meet the head of state and offered talks at a lower level.
“The subject is not to be discussed with ministers but with the President of the Republic“, insisted on his side, Hermes Pete.
Yes Ivan Duque “does not show up in Bogota, we will leave (…) and we will act“, warned Mr. Pete on Tuesday, alluding to possible blockages of the Pan-American highway connecting Colombia and Ecuador.
The mayor of Bogota Claudia Lopez for her part welcomed the protest movement and asked the president to listen to the demands of the indigenous communities.
On Monday, a former community leader and his wife were shot dead in Suárez, Cauca state, according to indigenous representatives.
The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (Onic) denounced the fact that at least 167 indigenous people have been murdered since Ivan Duque came to power in 2018.
The disarmament of the FARCs made it possible to reduce the intensity of the conflict, but the country remains confronted with the violence of the National Liberation Army (ELN), the last active guerrilla, as well as drug traffickers.