Colombians take to streets again to support peace deal

written by The Associated Press

Thousands of farmers, indigenous activists and students marched in cities across Colombia on Wednesday to demand a peace deal between the government and leftist rebels not be scuttled.

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It’s the second time in a week that Colombians are taking to the streets to support the accord signed last month with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and now hanging by a thread.

In Bogota, victims of the decades-long conflict carrying photos of dead loved ones were greeted by well-wishers handing white flowers symbolizing peace.

“We victims are in a state of limbo, we need the accord now,” said Diana Gomez, 38, whose activist father was killed a decade ago. She said her father’s murder remains unsolved — one of a flood of unsolved crimes committed during the bloody conflict that claimed the lives of 220,000 people and left almost 8 million displaced.

President Juan Manuel Santos, winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, is in talks with the opposition and FARC to make adjustments to the accord after it was narrowly rejected in a referendum six days after it was signed in front of world leaders.

But it’s not clear he can save the deal as opponents push for stiffer penalties for rebel leaders widely loathed by Colombians. Under the terms of the accord signed Sept. 26, guerrillas who confess their war crimes will be spared time in jail and instead ordered to carry out community development work in areas hard hit by the conflict.

“This isn’t a question of cosmetic changes,” former President Alvaro Uribe, who led the campaign against the peace deal, said Wednesday after delivering to government officials a list of proposals that he said will strengthen and provide broader support for the accord. “In a country of institutions like Colombia, transitional justice can’t consist of failing to punish those responsible for atrocious crimes.”

The FARC leader known by his nom de guerre Timochenko tried to put on a brave face Wednesday, saying that the guerrilla group is open to making adjustments even if it’s not willing to start negotiations again from scratch.

“Personally I think it may have been good that this happened,” Timochenko, referring to the referendum loss, said in a rare, hour-long interview with Caracol Radio. “It allows us to clear up many doubts and especially commit the important segment of the Colombian society that didn’t vote, more than 63 percent, to take an interest in this history-making event.”

Wednesday’s march on the Plaza Bolivar, adjacent to the congress and presidential palace, appeared to be larger than last week’s rally, a sign of how politically apathetic Colombians have been jolted into action by the fading prospects for peace. In recent days, the Plaza has been overtaken by dozens of tents set up by die-hard peace activists and on Tuesday was blanketed with a giant, white shroud containing the names of almost 2,000 victims of the conflict stenciled in ash.

Santos has applauded the outburst of activism, and on Wednesday reiterated the need to seek a quick solution to the impasse so that a ceasefire in place doesn’t unravel.

“The great majority of people have asked me to find a solution son because uncertainty is the enemy,” he said in televised address.

Latin America-Asia Pacific Popular Grassroots Movements And Indigenous People Solidarity Encounter, October 29-30

“Capitalism is in crisis but has not been defeated. It reinvents itself,seeking new avenues of release. It organises its fury against the undisciplined, rebellious peoples. It tries incessantly to recolonise them, to make them submit, to control them.” …
Speakers confirmed to the ENCOUNTER:
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Assassination Attempts Against the General Coordinator and a Community Leader of the COPINH.

GUATEMALA-COPINH
The Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) denounces to the national and internacional public that there were two assassination attempts against comrades Tomás Gómez Membreño, General Coordinator of COPINH and Alexander García Sorto, a community leader from Llano Grande, Colomoncagua.

In two separate events, yesterday, on October 9, these two comrades were shot at. Unidentified people arrived at the home of comrade Alexander García, fired numerous shots through the main door and the window of the bedroom where he, his wife and two daughters were sleeping. The shooters intended to murder Alexander Garcia and his family.

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On the same night, a person shot at the pickup truck of the COPINH, which was being driven by comrade Tomás Gómez Membreño, General Coordinator of the organization, as he left the meeting center of Utopía en route to his house.

The attempted murder against compañero Alexander García was the second try, because on May 6 this year, two months after the assassination of our General Coordinator, Berta Cáceres, he was shot by the former military Enedicto Alvarado, as he left his house. Alexander was wounded and almost killed that time. After that, Alvarado was processed, and his family has made threats against Alexander for not withdrawing the legal demand.

The COPINH denounces these assassination attempts against comrade Tomás Gómez, who took over the general coordination of COPINH after the assassination of comrade Berta Cáceres, on March 2 this year, and against comrade Alexander García. These are attempts to silence the struggle of the COPINH against the deathly projects that are being promoted in indigenous Lenca territories, pushed by this corrupt government that submits to the economic interests at both national and international levels.

Likewise, the COPINH denounces the shots fired at the Lenca Community of Rio Blanco, by hitmen hired by the DESA company, as a form of intimidation and threat against the community for opposing the destruction of the Gualcarque River and the seizure of territories of the Lenca people.

Now, 7 months since the assassination of our comrade Berta Cáceres, those who oppose the projects of death such as the Agua Zarca/ DESA dam on the Gualcarque River and the dam by HIDROSIERRA on the Black River in the municipality of Colomoncagua, continue to be targeted. These are attempts to kill those who defend their rights as Lenca people and who strive to build viable alternatives for the development of our communities and of the entire world, instead of submitting to the ambition for profit of a handful of people.

Now, 7 months after the assassination of our general coordinator, neither the government nor the institutions have responded to our demands to cancel the projects that the communities were never consulted about, to authorize an independent investigation on the assassination, to demilitarize the Lenca territories and to cease the persecution and stigmatization against the COPINH. We demand answers.

We demand the closing of Agua Zarca/DESA and all of the other illegitimate, unconsulted deathly projects in our territories.

We demand respect for the lives of all the members of COPINH.

We demand justice for the murder of Berta Cáceres.

Berta did not die, she multiplied.

With the ancestral strength of Berta, Lempira, Mota, Iselaca and Etempica, we raise our voices full of life, justice, dignity, freedom and peace.

Sent on October 10, 2016 from La Esperanza, Intibucá.

From Resistance to Subversion: What do we Celebrate on October 12?

By: Dr. Juan E. Romero J. / Source: Resumen Latinoamericano / October 12, 2016

The idea of resistance was used by the Spanish invaders to express the opposition of indigenous peoples to control in the cultural, political, social and economic areas. Spaniards created an imagery where indigenous communities were labeled as “barbarian”, “uncivilized”, “backwards”, and “inhumane”, which was convenient to ease the task of plundering and imposition of the doctrines of the Western-European world.

Thus, the Spaniard’s idea of “resistance” described the unwillingness of these societies to adapt to the Western order. This was vital to achieve their goal of plundering. In the philosophy of European right, the first place is taken up by the basis of private property. On that principle, the whole system of property and social hierarchy was built, which supported the worldview and the workings of the modern European society. The violent contact imposed ethic and juridical difficulties: the human groups that were established in the territory that we now calle America had been there, without a doubt, since long before the Europeans arrived. That is, they were the “first owners” of the territory and its riches, according to European law. So Europeans, according to their own legal system, were forbidden to control those lands and resources. But this would have been a disaster for their enterprise —because their interest was, first and foremost, of a commercial nature. So how could they bypass this obstacle? Easy: they declared indigenous peoples non-human. That was enough for them to feel entitled to grab their riches. There were tales about the monstrosity of these beings: creatures without heads, with eyes in their chests, who ate one another, like animals. The Church contributed the theological explanation: the world, and everything in it, is a work of God, and He gave it to those who believe in him —not to the infidels.

Indigenous peoples were not only non-human, but also “children of the devil” himself, and it was a “Christian duty” to reclaim those territories from the influence of evil. The result was a premeditated plundering, accompanied by murders and extraordinary displacements. Exactly what we would now call a “crime against humanity”. Nevertheless, they concealed and justified their atrocities —with the notable exception of Bartolomé de las Casas.

In the beginning (that is, from late 15th century to mid-16th century), indigenous resistance was thoroughly crushed. The technological superiority of the invaders, thanks to their use fo gunpowder and horses, was crucial.

The resistance was heroic but ineffective, but in the 16th century it became an organized action to fight for rights (albeit limited) and participate in areas of society (also limited). There was a transition from resistance to subversion.

What is subversion? It’s a praxis that reflects the internal incongruences of a social order, and points to new goals. After resisting without results, indigenous groups turned to subversion, and used their historic knowledge, their “expertise” (lessons and values forged over centuries of social relations) to begin a new path in organized struggle, which progressively evolved to the form it has today.

Indigenous resistance became a subversive social movement, whose essential nucleus is the defense of the environment, which is a consequence of their vital experience. This form of subversive social movement has three characteristics that make it special in their relation with National States.

1. Indigenous culture is a counter-culture, which permanently criticizes the forms and logics of capitalism and the official history of those National States.
2. They usually demand autonomy in the management of their territories, to make up for the theft they were victims of
3. They strive to preserve their social, economic and environmental practices, which sometimes are in conflict with the practices of the national states, which are usually focused on the profit-oriented exploitation of nature.

Colonialist views on indigenous societies as backwards, without future, submissive and obedient have been substituted by the New Latin American Constitutionalism, particularly in Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela, for movements of resistance against globalization and capitalism. The Zapatista movement in Mexico is one example of this view, and also the indigenous movements against Chevron in Ecuador, or the organizations in Bolivia, or the resistance against the Mining Area in Venezuela.

We must also discuss history and historiography, because we’re still commemorating October 12, the date on which America was discovered by Europeans —even though we have changed the name and tone from “Day of the Discovery” to “Day of Respect to all Races” or “Day of Indigenous Resistance”. We must stop using the landmarks of European modernity and create our own narrative.

The fact that this date is still commemorated is another form of subordination and cultural dominance. Colonialism is still present in out culture, and at the basis for the social and economic inequalities that greatly harm Latin America. In order to become decolonized, we must stop using European historic and cultural interpretations and build our own on the grounds of our anti-capitalist, anti-globalization and environmentalist movements.