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“We, the Indigenous peoples, had everything, and now we have nothing”

By Jessica Garcia

This October 12th, on another anniversary of the beginning of the colonization of Latin America, of another year of resistance, the Process of Indigenous Authorities in Bakatá [the precolonial name of Bogotá] continues resisting in the Parque Nacional in Bogotá, in the absence of a response to their demands by the Colombian state.

On last September 29th the Process of Indigenous Authorities in Bakatá (Process of Indigenous Authorities in Bakatá)arrived at the Parque Nacional after 14 hours in a procession through the city of Bogotá that began, on the Avenida Cali, as an action of peaceful protest against the failures of the local authorities to fulfill commitments. Even though it had not been the idea to remain in the park, at about 6 pm that day “people were too worn out to continue, and the children were hungry,” said to us Sandra Rosado, representative of the Wayúu people in the urban context of Bakatá and part of the Collective of Indigenous Authorities in Bakatá.

That same day, a little after settling down in the park and making arrangements for food, the group of Indigenous people received the one and only response of the state so far: repression. About 10 o’clock at night the national police riot squad, the ESMAD [Escuadrón Móvil Antidisturbios], launched teargas and flashbang grenades, with consequences for the health of pregnant women and children. A three-month-old baby girl remains in intensive care now as a result of the teargas, and some pregnant women remain under observation because of the losses they suffered.

Contrary to what the state expected when opting for repression, the Process of Indigenous Authorities in Bakatá decided to declare itself in Minga Permanente and remain in the Parque Nacional until a dialogue was convened between the local and indigenous governments. For María Violet Medina Quiqué, of the Nasa people and part of the Indigenous Authorities Process in Bakatá, declaring a Minga is precisely "an exercise that we are doing, where we all meet, we all contribute, it is also a way for us to meet in unity, in collectivity".

Declaring a Minga is an act of solidarity between peoples, as Violet Medina has said, not all of the Indigenous peoples are on the same footing, which has caused peoples such as the Embera Katio, Chamí, and Dobida to be very firm in their resistance, leading to the decision to remain collectively in the Parque Nacional. “We cannot keep talking about the dignity and recognition of Indigenous peoples when we are still experiencing these conditions, when an armed conflict has hit us as hard as it could, when they have taken our lands, when they continue to kill us, and yet it is as if nothing is going on, it all tends to get normalized,” Violet reminds us.

This October 12th, on another anniversary of the colonization of Latin America, the Indigenous peoples continue resisting in the Minga Permanente in the Parque Nacional. This October 12th we reaffirm the words of María Violet Medina, “We continue to say that we, the Indigenous peoples, had everything, and now we have nothing,” and for that reason the resistance will continue until the state guarantees the exercise of their constitutional rights to a dignified life.


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