Colombia: peace talks announced with rappin' FARC

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos announced Sept. 4 that his government and the FARC guerrilla organization have signed an agreement to start peace negotiations. In a televised speech, Santos said the talks will consist of three phases. In phase one, which has been concluded, "we defined a closed agenda, rules and procedures to move forward," Santos said. The second phase, to begin now, "will be a discussion, without interruptions and without intermediaries, about agreed points to reach the final agreement." The third, post-conflict phase will consist of "the simultaneous implementation of all agreements, with the appropriate safeguards, verification mechanisms and citizen participation." Five points for the talks have been outlined: rural development, guarantees for political participation, an immediate end of the armed conflict, drug trafficking, and victims' rights. Santos said these points "constitute an integral formula for the effective termination of the conflict and to advance the construction of a stable and lasting peace."

Colombia: war, illegal mining encroach on indigenous communities

A landmine believed to have been placed by FARC guerillas exploded Aug. 15, killing an indigenous man and two workers who were repairing an power pylon that had been knocked down last week in an attack also attributed to the guerrillas in a rural area of Tumaco municipality of southwest Colombia's Nariño department. The indigenous man was a member of the Awá people who had been hired as a guide by the Central Naraño Electric company. Tumaco, a city of some 170,000, has been without electricity for five days due to attacks on pylons. (EFE, Aug. 15) One week earlier, Embera and other indigenous peoples up the Pacific coast in Chocó reported that their communities had come under aerial bombardment by army helicopters in the Alto Andágueda area. A statement from the Association of Indigenous Cabildos of Chocó (OREWA) said some 360 families, comprising about 1,500 people, were forced to flee the villages of La Palma, Masura, Unipa and Santa Isabel. No casualties were reported, but the statement said the displaced families were "constantly menaced" by forced of the national army, FARC and ELN guerillas. (OREWA, Aug. 6)

Colombia: indigenous elder assassinated in Cauca

Lisandro Tenorio Troche, a traditional elder and healer of the Nasa indigenous people in Colombia's southwestern department of Cauca, was shot dead by two gunmen on a motorcycle Aug. 12 at vereda (hamlet) Pílamo in resguardo (indigenous reserve) López Adentro, Caloto municipality. Community leaders said they believe the assassins weref rom the FARC rebels, who had threatened Tenorio and his family in recent days. The Nasa communities have in recent weeks stepped up their campaign to demand that all armed actors—government troops, paramilitaries and guerillas alike—respect their constitutionally protected autonomy and refrain from operating on their lands.

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