Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Colombian poor occupy state office

MORE than 5,000 indigenous, AfroColombian and farming community members are occupying the community center of Piñuña Negro (pictured above) in the department of Putumayo, Colombia, reports Narco News.

They are calling for an end to the US-backed Plan Colombia and the triple threat of military and paramilitary repression and cocoa eradication programmes.

Says the site: "Using tactics of nonviolent resistance, a crowd of all ages has gathered at the highest government office in the area—the Police Inspector’s office—to demand negotiations with local and national government representatives.

"The affected communities say that after three years of unfulfilled promises and unanswered calls for dialogue, there have been no lasting efforts by the government to develop replacement crops, markets and the infrastructure to get crops to markets.

"Instead, community leaders and residents are being falsely accused of being operatives of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-FARC) and subjected to ongoing repression.

"With no means to earn a livelihood, rural communities are enduring widespread malnutrition, disease and lack of educational or economic opportunity.

"The local population has been subjected to rampant abuses by the military, including unprovoked and random armed assaults against civilian populations, the forced procurement of crops and other resources, occupation of homes and farms and a military blockade prohibiting the entry of food and other daily necessities into the area.

"Paramilitary death squads have operated with impunity, threatening the population and, worse, committing assassinations and other acts of violence. "

The occupation is calling for:

· An end to coca eradications in Putumayo until authorities have negotiated and enacted a plan with Colombian authorities that includes an adequate and just crop replacement component;

· A guarantee of safety for protest leaders and community negotiators;

· An end to Plan Colombia and the triple threat of military and paramilitary repression and eradication programs that are the root causes of displacement of indigenous, AfroColombian and farming communities.