Minga – we are with you! Was the message of an emergency picket of the Colombian embassy in London on Friday 21 November.
The Minga is a popular assembly of indigenous peoples and other social movements that has been in non-stop session since 10 October. The first phase was blocking the Pan-American Highway, then 40,000 people marched to the city of Cali, then they held a mass meeting of talks with President Uribe at the ancestral gathering place Maria Piendamo on 2 November, but the outcome was unsatisfactory so over 10,000 people pledged to march to the capital Bogotá for more talks.
The indigenous demands focus on the return of the land, Madre Tierra, to them for its protection. Indigenous people in Cauca which is at the heart of the uprising subsist on less than two hectares per family; their land taken by big landlords and multinationals.
The movement is fighting to stop free trade agreements with the US and EU which will make their situation worse.
So far over 100 people have been injured and three killed by the police and army during the Minga. A CNN video posted on Youtube shows an army sniper shooting from amongst anti-riot police of the notorious ESMAD.
Concern to stop more state violence as the marchers arrived in Bogotá was the reason for our picket, and at the request of Colombia’s national indigenous organisation ONIC we handed a letter to the embassy staff. Similar pickets took place in Barcelona, Brussels and Paris.
Minga representatives open further talks with government ministers on Saturday. Through the Minga the indigenous people of Colombia have already shown that they are on the move and will not go back to the old ways of racist exclusion.