Colombians are marching against President Alvaro Uribe's policies. The protest comes one week after vio10,000 indigenous lence erupted during demonstrations to press for land reform and dialogue with the government.
Colombia's indigenous protest against Uribe
ZAA NKWETA, TRNN: Ten thousand of Colombia's indigenous peoples are taking part in a massive demonstration, which comes after days of violent clashes between indigenous groups and Colombian police. The 62-mile march began Tuesday in Piendamó, in the Cauca province, and will end Friday in the city of Cali. The aim is to pressure the government into returning land to indigenous farmers and to protest against the alleged genocide of indigenous peoples. Recent clashes stem from the killing of indigenous leaders. Indigenous groups claim 1,200 people have been killed by different armed groups since 2002. Colombia President Álvaro Uribe has denied that police and army forces have been using lethal force against demonstrators, but medics said they have treated scores of Indians injured by bullets and shrapnel. Uribe says out of Colombia's 150 million hectares of land, 30 million already belong to indigenous communities. According to Colombia's national indigenous organization, 27 percent of Colombia's indigenous population have no land. Demonstrators want the government to set aside more land for Colombia's 1.3 million Indians and to provide money for better education and health care. They also want the government to prevent corporations and multinational companies from encroaching on their land.
From Democracy NOW Interview above:
JUAN GONZALEZ: And, Mario, obviously, the protests, you said, started on October 12th, which is the anniversary of el Dia de la Raza, or of Columbus Day, as it's called here in the United States. What is the—in terms of the condition of the indigenous under the Uribe government, what is it like right now?
MARIO MURILLO: That's a great point, and this is interesting that finally, after over almost two weeks of mobilizing and weeks before the mobilization began, the indigenous communities were putting out communiqués consistently on their websites and holding press conferences to draw attention to five key points that the communities are trying to address and to get the government to address, but it hasn't gotten any coverage whatsoever. Only the last couple of days, because the government has been forced to respond to the specific points, are the media now here in Colombia actually addressing them.
One of them, you pointed out in the introduction. They're really concerned about the free trade agreement that was signed by the Colombian government, and they're waiting for approval in the US Congress. It hasn't been approved by the Congress. And so, the Colombian indigenous movement and the popular movement in general are saying that this free trade agreement has to be reconsidered, because the communities were not consulted.
The Threat of REDD
UN Admits Its Climate Change Program Could Threaten Indigenous Peoples
Sept. 27, 2008 - On the third day of the General Assembly's 63rd Session, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Prime Minister of Norway launched the United Nations REDD program, a collaboration of FAO, UNDP, UNEP and the World Bank.
The inclusion of forests in the carbon market, or REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) has caused anxiety, protest and outrage throughout the world since it was created at the failed climate change negotiations in Bali and funded by the World Bank.
An estimated 60 million indigenous peoples are completely dependent on forests and are considered the most threatened by REDD. Therefore, indigenous leaders are among its most prominent critics. The International Indigenous Peoples' Forum on Climate Change declared that: '...REDD will steal our land... States and carbontraders will take control over our forests.'
It is alarming that indigenous peoples' fears and objectionshave now been confirmed by the UN-REDD Framework Document itself.
On page 4 and 5 it blatantly states that the program could "deprive communities of their legitimate land-development aspirations, that hard-fought gains in forest management practices might be wasted, that it could cause the lock-up of forests by decoupling conservation from development, or erode culturally rooted not-for-profit conservation values."
It is further highlighted that "REDD benefits in some circumstances may have to be traded off against other social, economic orenvironmental benefits."
In carefully phrased UN language, the document further acknowledges that REDD could cause severe human rights violations and be disastrous for the poor because it could "marginalize the landless.and those with. communal use-rights".
This is tantamount to the UN recognizing that REDD could undermine indigenous peoples and local communities rights to the usage andownership of their lands.
Could it be that the UN is paving the way for a massive land grab?
To read UN-REDD Framework Document: http://www.undp.org/mdtf/UN-REDD/docs/Annex-A-Framework-Document.pdf
To see photos from the protest against REDD and the World Bank in Bali: http://www.globaljusticeecology.org/gallery.php
To watch the video from the protest against REDD at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtORVi7GybY