I forgot to post this last summer, busily helping plan a week of actions on Colombia. Check out the press hits! But I digress.
Nico sent along some helpful feedback that didn’t make it into the published draft, pointing out among other things that state violence is the primary barrier to organizing and partnership. “i think it’s important to make clear that not all colonos have that mentality… what about the colonos who organized in marquetalia?? i think there is definitely a stigmatization of colonos of being very individualistic, but in any given community, you seen signs of people helping each other out.” He also pointed out that there are in fact indigenous guerrilleros, and the FARC aren’t anymore likely to target indigenous or campesinos.
Editors. Editors are important. Preguntando caminamos…
Published in Left Turn (June 2009)
An Unlikely Alliance: Indigenous and Campesinos Build an Alliance for Self-Defense
By Andrew Willis Garcés
To reach one of the Colombian indigenous tribes that overlaps with Venezuela, you first need to get to the town of Honduras, in the municipality of Convención in the Norte de Santander department. It is accessible by a precarious, one-lane dirt road hugging the eastern spine of the Andes Mountains; average speed, about 12 mph. From there you walk or, if you’re lucky, ride a donkey past acres of relatively new coca fields and forest being cleared for that or pasture. After four hours you’ll arrive at the state Catatumbo-Barí Forest Reserve and the small village of Bridicayra, one of the few remaining indigenous Barí settlements.
Though hard to reach, the area is highly coveted by multinationals, some of which sent proxies this past January to a bi-annual assembly of Barí leaders, in hopes of enlisting them in the cause of resource exploitation. Twenty-three of all Barí towns were represented at the assembly in Bridicayra. Also in attendance were lawyers, environmental ministry officials, journalists, and documentarians. However the most unlikely guests the Barí shared space with during the assembly weren’t these urban professionals, but local campesinos.
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