Afro-Colombian Solidarity Network (ACSN)* Statement
November 21, 2013
Agreements Reached after the Peaceful Occupation of Government Offices
Colombian Government Must Comply
In response to the Colombian government’s lack of political will to respect the rights of black people in the department of Cauca, Afro-descendant communities throughout the department translated their frustration into a mass mobilization to peacefully occupy the offices of the Colombian Institute of Rural Development (INCODER) in the city of Popayan on October 31, 2013.
The initiative led by the Afro-Caucan Territorial Working Group (Mesa de Desarrollo Territorial Afrocaucana), lasted 10 days and pressured for the presence of a high-level government delegation on November 9th when finally an agreement between the parts was reached. An English version of the agreements is included in the annex to this statement, and the Afro-Caucan Territorial Working Group published a public statement that includes the original signed memorandum from the meeting.
The Afro-Colombian Solidarity Network closely monitored the developments of the INCODER occupation and will continue monitoring the implementation of the agreements. We encourage the international human rights community to do the same.
ACSN calls upon the U.S. Government, and specifically the Race, Ethnicity, and Social Inclusion Unit of the Department of State, to monitor the implementation of the Popayan agreements as part of their responsibilities laid out in the U.S.-Colombia Racial and Ethnic Equality Action Plan.
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*The Afro-Colombian Solidarity Network (ACSN) includes TransAfrica Forum (TAF), Global Rights, Chicago Religious Leadership Network (CRLN), the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), U.S. Office on Colombia (USOC), International Working Group of PCN, Colombia Land Rights Monitor, and activists and scholars Joseph Jordan, Eunice Escobar, Ajamu Baraka, Naila Rosario, Tianna Paschel and Arturo Escobar. Peace Brigades International (PBI) serves as an international observer.
ANNEX 1: Translated Agreements
- Constitutional Court Order 005 includes specific measures for three Community councils in northern Cauca: La Toma, Alsacia, and Cerro Teta. The methodology for their implementation will be completed with what is left from the budget for this year, and the rest will come into effect in 2014. On November 25, 2013, there will be a meeting in La Toma (Suarez) to define the methodology for the three community councils. The rest of the communities will be covered in 2014. The government has agreed to make it clear to the implementing agency that the case of Cauca must include differential treatment as mandated by Constitutional Court Order 005.
- INCODER must finish adjudicating the lands prioritized by the Afro-Caucan Working Group by December 15, 2013.
- INCODER resolved that the 800 million pesos for the lands of Guadalaraja will not come from the 22 billion pesos from 2012. They also committed to buying the two lands of Cajibio and resolving the land issue there.
- INCODER guaranteed that 7.18 billion pesos from the 2013-2014 budget will be designated for productive projects only if they are tied to the purchasing of lands. Additionally, they will be accompanied by the institute , and the formulation of the projects will include community participation.
- INCODER will designate 25 billion pesos from the 2014 budget to buy land for the Black communities from the department of Cauca. INCODER’s budget will also increase its budget by at least 30 billion pesos. The Afro-Caucan Territorial Development Working Group will decide which lands will be prioritized. Criteria for productive land use will be created in accordance with the traditional uses and customs of the Black communities.
- In regards to the Third Farming Census, INCODER will send the Afro-Caucan Working Group an official statement from the DANE explaining the details of the census, its development with AMUNAFRO, and a proposal for its dissemination in order to reach agreements regarding the participation of the communities in the next steps.
- INCODER will create a dialogue with the DNE to examine and make decisions regarding the case of Madroñal (lands being solicited by the Community Council of Palenque Monte Oscuro) within two weeks. The manager will establish a meeting with the Director, the Minister of Justice, and four delegates from the communities in order to discuss the issue and establish options for a solution. This meeting will be held with Mr. Freddy Páez, who is in charge of DNE lands in INCODER.
- The government of Cauca will guarantee the resources for the functioning of the Inter-Ethnic Working Group for 2014 and 2015.
- INCODER and the Ministry of Interior will establish an administrative act that will provide the Territorial Development Working Groups of Cauca with tranquility no later than December 15, 2013.
- A meeting will be held on November 20, 2013 with the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the section for weapons and explosives of the Ministry of Defense, and the Ministry of Environment in order to discuss issues related to mining in Afro-Caucan communities. The government entities will clarify remaining questions following the meeting regarding the list of demands.
- Mr. Oscar Gamboa will convene other ministries to follow up on other points from the agenda.
- The government representatives from this meeting will guarantee that none of the members that participated in the permanent assembly will be subject to any legal action. They will also ask the respective authorities to be open to dialogue and peaceful action in regards to the peaceful assembly.
- On December 15, 2013, the Afro-Caucan Working Group and INCODER will hold a follow-up meeting. During this meeting, they will discuss territorial development from the Afro-descendant perspective.
- The spokespeople for the Afro-Caucan Territorial Development Working Group will lift the permanent assembly and leave INCODER. The Human Rights Ombudsman will guarantee that the permanent assembly is lifted.
- INCODER, through the Javeriana University, will cover the costs of returning the spokespeople and community members to their territories.