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Thousands of Indigenous demonstrators have gathered at Tercer Milenio Park in Bogota to protest the persisting violence against their communities in Colombia. This marks the first large-scale Indigenous protest under the tenure of President Gustavo Petro.
Viviana Guerrera, a protestor from the Nasa Indigenous community, expressed her disappointment with the administration, stating, “Every government needs to be held accountable. This government is no exception.”
President Petro, who assumed office in August 2022, vowed to establish “total peace” in a nation still recovering from nearly 60 years of internal strife. Although he celebrated a six-month ceasefire with the National Liberation Army (ELN) in August, other informal truces have failed, and rural areas remain marred by violence. Statistics from the United Nations highlight that over 37,000 individuals experienced violence from January to September this year. Notably, Indigenous communities, which constitute just 3.5% of the population, represent nearly half of those affected or displaced due to conflicts.
As the most perilous nation for land and environmental defenders, Colombia has seen a significant number of its Indigenous leaders targeted. The Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC), a key organizer of the protest known as the Minga, emphasized their desire for peace and an end to human rights violations.
Joe Sauco of CRIC stated, “We have come to work, in a grand assembly, to support this government in ‘total peace’ and form a pact to stop war and bloodshed.” The upcoming Wednesday march aligns with demonstrations backing President Petro’s reforms, which are currently in limbo in Congress.