Articles by: Annalise Romoser
On June 29, Obama will host a meeting with Colombian President Álvaro Uribe at the White House. The two leaders should discuss the ongoing wave of violence against indigenous communities in the South American country. The murder last week of Marino Mestizo is a case in point. Protecting the lives and rights of indigenous communities is one of the many ways that the two leaders could help the cause of peace in the war-torn nation as well as help stem the flow of illegal drugs.
While the government stubbornly denies the existence of paramilitary groups, the people of Tierralta in the northern Colombian department of Córdoba know otherwise. Tierralta's residents are facing a wave of killings and massacres at the hands of these murderous gunmen. With nearly four million internal refugees, Colombia already has the world's second-largest humanitarian crisis, and the paramilitary resurgence is already making things much worse.
ver 50 years ago, Enrique Petro left his humble home to seek out a new life farming in the northwestern region of Urabá, Colombia. A poor farmer, Petro slowly managed to eke out a living in the thick and inhospitable jungle. He was able to provide food for his large family and live in relative peace while the much of the country remained gripped by war. “It was a healthy and peaceful time for us, and our children were well taken care of,” recalls Petro. But in February 1997, Petro’s life changed radically.
When Miguel Moran Acosta graduated from high school this year in Colombia's southern jungle province of Putumayo, he went back home to farm with his family in Alto Comboy, an Awa indigenous reserve. Days later, on May 23, Colombian army officials entered the reserve, tied Miguel’s hands and feet together and took him off to a nearby mountain. The following day, Miguel’s lifeless body was put on display in the province’s military barracks as a “guerrilla downed in combat.”