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While the National Agrarian, Peasant, Ethnic and Popular Minga continues in Colombia in response to the lack of fulfillment of agreements by Juan Manuel Santos´ administration with social movements, the tension in Colombia is increasing.
The Movement in Defense of Territories and People Affected by Dam - Rios Vivos, denounced, in a statement issued on May 31st, threats by supposed paramilitary groups against William and Orlando Gutierrez (brothers), Wilson Vargas and Rito Mena, all of them leaders of Rios Vivos. The men that threatened the activists went to their houses and told them that if the mobilization continued they would be murdered.
The National Agrarian, Peasant, Ethnic and Popular Summit, organizers of the meeting, said that "the government has been giving the Minga a war treatment, and all the promises made to its spokespeople have been ignored (...) In most places where the Minga has been taking place, their leaders and participants are being subjected to a strict intelligence, which is evidently illegal". The statement issued by the Summit also expresses that "a fair and legitimate social protest cannot be dealt with like this by the government, which supposedly should be defending and searching for peace. If they continue fighting the Minga with this violence, then their peace discourse is nothing more than words.
As part of the coverage of the event and the agrarian strike taking place in Colombia, Danilo Urrea, Real World Radio´s correspondent, interviewed Marylen Serna, spokesperson of the Peoples Congress. The peasant leader said that "we´ve been forced to mobilize again" as a response to the lack of political will by the government and their empty promises. She also considered as a significant step forward the participation of new sectors, among them E24 -an urban movement for territorial defense-, truck drivers, new union sectors and a wide number of regional movements that have the defense of land and the territory as common goals.
Serna said that mobilization is important in these times in order to achieve peace. "We think that the Minga is a significant contribution by the social movement on the issue of the participation of society in the building of peace. This mobilization, this national statement we are working on, contributes to building peace with social justice", she stated.
On March 30, the Colombian government announced the beginning of a public stage of negotiations with the National Liberation Army (ELN) to look for a way out of the armed conflict. However, two months after the announcement, there haven´t been any steps forward, and the situation seems to be at a standstill.
About the position of the Peoples´ Congress about this process, the spokesperson said that "for us it was very important that the government announced a public stage". And she added: "We believe it is important for negotiations to take place with all insurgent groups and the fact that the negotiations are being delayed is very concerning". "We think that the government is imposing some conditions that hadn´t been imposed from the beginning, so they haven´t kept their word. We are demanding from the Colombian government and the ELN to continue with this stage for the negotiations to move forward", she added.
La oposición a la minería debe entenderse como la lucha por los derechos que esa actividad no respeta, pues “cada derecho que se le otorga a una empresa, es un derecho que se le resta a una comunidad”, asegura el coordinador del Observatorio de Conflictos Mineros de América Latina (OCMAL), César Padilla.
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