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September 11, 2000
Association of U'wa Traditional Authorities
Decree Number 1088, 1993
Registry resolution Number 003, February 1997.
Minister of the Interior
Communique to the National and International Public
Kera Chikara - Ancestral and Sacred Territory of the U'wa People,
September 11, 2000
The U'wa People want to make known the National and International Public the repressive nature of the public forces, military, and anti-riot police who are, on a daily basis, physically and morally assaulting members of the U'wa community who are living on the Santa Rita and Bellavista Farms in Cedeno, Toledo, North Santander. Our community is the rightful owner of these lands.
This past July 8th, the U'wa community returned to occupy the Santa Rita and Bellavista farms thanks to a judge's injunction decision which ordered the revision of the formalities which granted the land to Occidental of Colombia, Inc. In this process of revising these formalities, the U'wa, the representative of the municipality of Cubara, Boyaca, the Agrarian judicial attorney of Arauca, the People's Ombudsman of Arauca, and the commander of the military forces of the region, agreed to mutually respect each other, thus guaranteeing the respect for our constitutional and legal rights. It was also stated that the universal human rights and international humanitarian rights would be respected, including: freedom of movement, freedom from physical or moral agression, the right to work, the right to a home, the right to privacy, etc. But today we would like to tell Colombia and the world that the public forces haven't respected our rights, and they continue to restrict the entry to our land, they prohibit us from using the interior road that connects with the central road to our property, they sound gunshots in the night. U'wa women have been the victims of violent sexual acts carried out by military soldiers, and on the 8th and 9th of September due to the restricted movement, we had to traverse a mountain to enter our property.
Today the public forces informed us that in eight days they will remove the U'wa community members that are living contentedly on the Santa Rita and Bella Vista farms. According to statements from the head of the military, this is an order handed down from the President of Colombia, Andres Pastrana Arango. Due to this decision, we would like to say to our Colombian brothers and sisters that this is the result of the Plan Colombia, the negation of all of our rights.
The U'wa people reject the despotic nature of the Andres Pastrana government, the lies and the deceit that he attempts to legalize by means of informing national and international citizens of a process of alleged respect for our rights, which in reality doesn't exist. While the government dialogues in Bogota, the machinery is arriving to the drilling site and the process of violence is growing stronger. For these reasons, we want to make clear that if in the future an U'wa leader or any U'wa person is attacked physically or morally, we will hold the Colombian government Occidental of Colombia Inc. directly responsible.
The U'wa are not going to abandon our farms because this is our home and our land. We will continue to gather there and to make known to the Colombian community and the world each inhumane act that is committed by the military forces. We will communicate these events not to provoke pity, but to garner support for our people who fight to maintain our culture, our beliefs, our ancient laws; We are an example a community that seeks to live in peace and harmony with others and with nature. The Plan Colombia only benefits the multinationals who, in their efforts to seize and take control of our riches and of our wealth devastate all that is around them. We the U'wa people stand as a clear example of a community defending our right to live in peace, unity and harmony; to live within the territory that was created by Sira (God), and to care for and and coexist peacefully on this, our land.
Roberto Perez Guitierrez
President, U'wa Council, U'wa Association