Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Day 2: Walking the Word in Cauca

The temporary camp awakes before dawn, its numbers swelled by the constante stream of civas that through the night, piled high with people, food and firewood. As day comes, the huge black tarpaulins that were strung up during last nights rain to create sleeping shelters for entire communities are already being folded up. The level of organisation is phenomenal. A camp for with 20000 people has breakfasted, showered, packed away and ready to march again in just three hours.

As we prepare to leave, a group of 100 Indígeneous Guard go running past, evenly spaced out, young and old, men and women, each with their bastion adornded with red and green ribbons, the red blood of the earth and the green of nature.

I walk a while chatting with a young guardia. “I joined two years ago, in my community of 500 people, 45 are in the guardia. When the pólice or army come into our resguardias, we get together to go and find them and remind them of the indigenous laws that does not allow the armed forces in our communities. We tell them to leave".

After the husband of Aida Quilcué, Chief Councillour of the CRIC, the Regional Indigenous Council and a spokesperson for the Minga , was killed in an army ambush in December 2008, the quick arrival and response of the Indigenous Guard preventing evidence being destroyed.

The Guardia Indigena today are coordinating the safety of the marchers. Unfortunately a guardia bastion, symbol of indigenous resistance, trips over a young guardia and she crashes to the floor. We rush over but she gets up quickly, and without hesitation, continues, now hobbling, in her part of a human chain that goes from the head to the tail of the march, walking the line in the middle of the road to protect us from traffic.

We march squeezed in on one side by container lorries on route to Buenaventura port and on the other by sugar cane as far as the eye can see. The symbolism is intense. From this enclosing on all sides by an imposed economic development model has arisen the 5 point agenda of the Minga. Economic models that use violence to squeeze communities until they must displace because they have nowhere left to live. Broken agreements with the government that means social movements must look for other solutions, no longer believing that the Colombian state will ever act in benefit of the poor.

The march is tiring, our feet ache, stomachs empty, a temporary physical discomfort yet this reflects daily reality for the majority in Colombia. Yet the march is inspiring and exciting as we all know that in many other places in the country people are also walking the word in the streets this week, joining the dots.

Campesinos from Choco are walking to Cali via Pereida talking about displacement about palm.

Small scale miners are heading to Cartagena down the River Magdalena taking about defense of the territory from multinationals that want to get control of the gold there.

Communities in Tolima against a huge open cast gold mine are talking about how this will destroy their livelihoods.

Communities along the river Sogamoso are in Minga, talking about the mega-dam that will destroy their communities.

Cartagena are in Minga, marching against hunger and will meet with those on route down the rvier Magdalena to build a common agenda.
And all are talking about the Agenda of the Peoples. How do we continue to work together to recognise what our different struggles have in common and create a different country. The conversations at the Pre-congresses on Wednesday and Thursday are going to be an important step in these conversations. Many social organisations still believe that the Minga is indigenous Feliciano Valencia, councillor of the CRIC says "we have to go beyond these particular identities that make each of us fight in our corner. I´m indigenous but an indigenous struggle is not going to change this country. This is a fight between the rich and the poor. And one day, we will win."

No comments: