THE PROCESS OF BLACK COMMUNITIES IN COLOMBIA PUBLICIZES THE FOLLOWING ACTS BEFORE THE NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY:
1. The north of Cauca, specifically the municipalities of Suarez & Buenos Aires, is inhabited by a population that is 70% Afro-Colombian. These descendents of past slaves who now subsist from agriculture & mining are communities that have been an example of the construction of a grassroots peaceful resistance for the entire country.
2. Many Afro Colombian leaders have sacrificed their lives and personal interests to help in the construction of a national project that would help create the reconciliation needed within our society but with respect for our differences.
3. The north of the Cauca is a geographically strategic area that historically was a transportation corridor and still is of utmost environmental and mining importance. These reasons have caused that the region often finds itself in constant dispute with legal and illegal armed actors in addition to the particular interests of the companies such as AngloGold Ashanti, Union Fenosa and numerous timber companies.
4. In the region their are numerous organizations that are parts of the Process of Black Communities in Colombia- PCN- such as: Communal Councils, women's organizations, victims' organizations, groups of communal action, agricultural organizations and mining cooperatives. These groups constitute an invaluable and active defense of human rights and the promoting of initiatives seeking to better the quality of life for Afro Colombians.
5. It is note worthy the long tradition of struggle of these communities that have been mobilizing for hundreds of years for the right to freedom, of the most recent struggles it is important to take into account:
* The fight against the Salvajina Dam because of its negative impacts towards local communities. Since created in 1986 there have been several broken promises from the government towards the communities.
* The process of prior consultation in regards to the EPSA project of the canalization of the River Ovejas to enlarge the Salvajina reservoir.
6. In 2004, derived from these struggles, the Integrated Inter Ethnic Commission is constituted by local delegates from indigenous and black communities in the municipalities of Suárez, Buenos Aires & Morales. This is done with the accompaniment of the Association of Indigenous Cabildos from the North of Cauca- ACIN and the Process of Black Communities- PCN.
7. All the implemented or planned mega development projects for the region have contributed to the forced displacement and the deterioration of the economic, environmental, social and cultural rights of local communities. This has also deepened the inequality that exists between the region's inhabitants and populations in other parts of the country.
1. In June 2000 the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia- AUC paramilitary group, took a public presence in the area of Buenos Aires and then Suarez. It maintained control of the area until 2004. As a product of this we have had a long history of massacres, selective assassinations, forced rationing of food, massive displacements, forced disappearances, the raping of women, and forced recruiting as some of the actions that were implemented against the population with the support of public security forces. One of the more well known massacres from the south of our country is one that happened in this territory, in Naya. In the case of Buenos Aires, these acts are part of a process of discussion and work around some pilot projects of collective reparations being promoted by the National Commission of Reparations and Reconciliation- CNRR. In spite of the previously mentioned acts, towards the end of 2007 there has been evidence of a paramilitary reorganization process in the region.
2. On October 9, 2007, 10 armed men from the Calima Bloc came to the residence of Clemencia Carabalí, member of The Municipal Association of Women of Buenos Aires –ASOM, located in the countryside of La Balsa, municipality of Buenos Aires. Clemencia, was interrogated for about 20 minutes about her personal activities. Clemencia, at this time was pregnant and the above mentioned encounter caused the death of her unborn child and forced her to relocate to the town of Santander de Quilichao where she remained for three months. When she returned to La Balsa, she was once again was forced to leave her home to go live in Santander de Quilichao in Feb. 2008 because of the frequent harassment from unknown individuals regarding her activities and where about.
3. In the month of May 2008 the compañero Robert de Jesús Guacheta was killed in the municipality of Morelos. He was the supplicant governor in his community and a member of the Inter Ethnic Commission.
4. The compañera Francia Elena Márquez, member of the Community Council for the countryside of La Toma in the municipality of Suárez is a dynamic youth organizer and member of the Association of Women of Yolombó and of the Inter Ethnic Commission has been subject to continued threats after her speaking in a communal hearing that was held with the government.
5. On May 29, 2009, in the office of the Municipal Association of Women located in La Balsa, an unknown man appeared asking for Clemencia Carabalí: "What has she been doing and where is she?" When the women said that she was not in the region, the man said that she better "take care of her family and mind her own business". A similar message was also left for the compañera Liliana Sandoval, also a member of ASOM, after he asked if she worked with Clemencia Carabalí. In the same way, various compañeras of ASOM have been threatened by means of phone calls on their cellular phones. All are asked if they work with Clemencia Carabalí and then they are told to take care of their families and to mind their own business.
These acts show that there is an insistent persecution against the relentless effort of peaceful resistance that these organizations do in defense of the communities' rights'. This persecution is brining drastic and irreparable consequences for the leaders of these organizations. From the intensification of the armed conflict in the regions inhabited by Afro descendent populations, the large number of assassinated leaders, family members and the more then one million people who are victims of internal forced displacement.
In recognizing the grave situation of the Afro descendent population in Colombia, the Constitutional Court regulated Auto 005 of 2009, in which it prioritizes the region of the North of Cauca, as an emblematic case in which there are specific orders that include:
* The Office of Social Action, in coordination with the territories it must design and put into action a specific plan for the protection and assistance of these communities, that must be functional by October 30, 2009.
* The Ministry of the Interior & Justice, must design no later then October 30, 2009, a plan to chart the collective and ancestral territories that are inhabited by the Afro-Colombian population.
* ORDERS that the Director of Social Action as coordinator of the National System of Attention to the Displaced Population, and CNAIPD, design a holistic plan for the prevention, protection and assistance of the Afro Colombian population. This must be done with full participation of the communities themselves and full respect of all selected authorities, those constituted and those from the respective territories. The Plan of Prevention, Protection and Assistance to the Afro Colombian population should be designed no later the January 18, 2010. The director of Social Action on July 1, 2010 should present a report regarding the advancement of the application of the holistic plan.
1. The national government adopt the necessary measures to protect the lives of the leaders from the black communities of the municipalities of Suarez & Buenos Aires and the guarantee the right to a free, open and informative prior consultation, regarding any projects that would affect the communities' rights' and territory.
2. The local, departmental and national governments must protect as mandated the Colombian Law, the Convention 169 of the OIT and the Auto 005 of 2009, the right of black communities to remain in their territory. To comply; communities, organizations and leaders should be coordinated with to assure that the mechanisms and guarantees for the accomplishing of what is mandated by Auto 005 of 2009 and other measure related to the issue.
3. The government and the CNRR, adopt the necessary measures to guarantee the lives of the leaders, organizational members and communities that accepted to participate in the Pilot Program of Collective Reparation. Equally that measures be adopted that guarantee this exercise can advance without back track in regards of the right to autonomous participation of the communities, organizations and leaders.
4. We demand that the wave of threats, intimidation and assassination of community leaders and members of the Inter Ethnic Commission be investigated and that the appropriate measures be taken against those responsible.
El Proceso de Comunidades Negras –PCN urges the national and international community to demand that the Colombian government completely follow in compliance with the Auto 005 of 2009.
Human Rights Team
Proceso de Comunidades Negras en Colombia PCN