09 Mar CI. –There continue to be massive displacements and aggressions against indigenous peoples in Colombia. The most recent case was reported by the UNIPA organization of the Awá people in Nariño. It concerns the 90 Awá families of the Pipalta Palbí Yaguapí reservation, who, since March 2nd, have been victims of constant confrontations between armed actors operating in the area.
According to public statement 001 of 2022 issued by UNIPA, “on March 7th, the ancestral authorities were witness to the massive displacement (...) of 90 families, totaling 281 people”.
The document highlights that among the displaced there are “more than 80 minors (...) they are temporarily staying in overcrowded houses in the town of Buenavista, in precarious and inhumane conditions”.
#ATTENTION With concern we share a public statement from the Indigenous Unit of the Awá people in Nariño @awaunipa about the emergency in the Resguardo Awá Pipalta Palbí Yaguapí due to the MASSIVE DISPLACEMENT OF ALL OF THE POPULATION https://pic.twitter.com/ttP1DgLPID
“This situation is part of the systematic human rights violations that the Awá reservation of Pipalta Palbí Yaguapí has been suffering since 2010, with murders, threats against leaders, confinements and displacements, as we have been alerting through public statements...”
Operation Artemisa violates the rights of indigenous peoples
Recently the Human Rights Commission of the Indigenous Peoples of Colombia @CNTI_Indigena released a statement condemning the fact that the “Army and National Police officials entered the villages of El Triunfo and the La Esperanza Council in San Vicente del Caguán”.
The CNTI also condemned the disappearance of five people after two houses were burned in the indigenous council and emphasized that “the humanitarian situation is critical and the community remains on high alert for possible actions by security forces”.
#ATTENTION| The @ComisionDDDHHPI CONDEMNS and DENOUNCES the disappearance of 5 indigenous people from the La Esperanza Council in San Vicente del Caguán in the department of Caquetá. @MPCindigena makes a CALL to @mindefensa @DefensoriaCol @ONUHumanRights @MAPPOEA. | #SOSPueblosIndígenas.
These are the homes of peasants and indigenous people that were burned by members of the National Army in Operation Artemisa in the village of El Triunfo and the indigenous council La Esperanza in San Vicente del Caguán, near the Sierra de Chiribiquete National Natural Park.
#Urgent Inhabitants of Loma Linda and Laureles in Vista Hermosa, Meta report that as part of Operation Artemisa 4 houses were dynamited and 4 people are missing. This news outlet has information that 2 of them are being prosecuted, the whereabouts of the other 2 are unknown.
This is not the first time that this situation has occurred in the El Triunfo village. Already in September 2021, the Colombian Army was accused by indigenous authorities of placing land mines in four houses, which were destroyed as part of an operation against deforestation in the Chiribiquete National Natural Park. On that occasion, disruptions occurred in the Nasa Council La Esperanza and the Filo Quince area, on the border between Caquetá and Meta. We must remember the statement made in 2019 by General Nicacio Martinez, commander of the Colombian Army about Operation Artemisa: “it is part of our Defense and Security Policy”. The general stated that it is being carried out by “the Brigade against Illegal Mining, 6 Jungle Battalions, 6 Jungle Infantry Battalions, 10 High Mountain Battalions, 19 Special Energy Road Battalions and 4 Battalions against Drug Trafficking”. Between 2018 and 2021, 12 Operation Artemisa military maneuvers were conducted in the vicinity of Amazonian national parks. Peasant and indigenous communities in Meta, Caquetá and Guaviare have opposed the operations which the government has justified under the guise of environmental conservation.
Land coveted for business interests
According to the Kavilando Interdisciplinary Research Group, “Along with Operation Artemisa, Colombia has deployed an “Environmental Bubbles” strategy, initiated in 2016.”
The group states that “environmental bubbles are surprise operations that are unveiled once the Army has carried out an operation to protect a certain area from illegal activities”. It also mentions the cases of the mining company Cosigo Resources Ltd., which seeks to carry out illegal activities in the Yaigojé-Apaporis National Park, “according to the interests of investors based on the Free Trade Agreement between Colombia and the United States”. This is also the case of the Canadian mining company, Auxico Resources, which intends to extract gold and coltan in the Amazon, and to which the former governor of Guainía, Javier Zapata, had granted 80% of the land.
”Faced with the use of the authority of the National Natural Parks of Colombia to displace peasants, a proposal to solve the conflict is that of “Parks with Peasants”, which would turn them into partners for conservation instead of considering them enemies of the environment.”
According to the document, the current National Development Plan, which includes Operation Artemisa, seeks to promote “conservation” objectives, in order to reduce the jungle areas to a series of disconnected protected areas, separated by roads, surrounded by oil wells, hydroelectric dams, fumigated areas and mines”. According to experts, the ongoing land theft in Colombia in recent years has a new and terrifying weapon: the militarization of environmental conservation.