Edwin Legarda, the husband of Colombian indigenous leader Aida Quilcue, was killed on 16 December 2008 when the Colombian army ambushed his car in an attack seemingly meant for Aida. Soldiers fired 106 bullets at the vehicle, piercing it 17 times. President Uribe and army figures immediately claimed that Edwin had failed to stop at an army checkpoint, and for this reason the soldiers opened fire.
Investigators in the case have established that there was no checkpoint, and believe that the plan was to set up a ‘false positive’: plant firearms on the corpses of those travelling in the car and claim that Edwin and Aida were guerrillas. On her recent trip to the UK, at the invite of Unison Northern and the Northern TUC and in conjunction with the Colombia Solidarity Campaign, Aida said that if the army had managed to successfully carry out the false positive then the government would have been able to portray the indigenous movement and the Minga of Social and Communitarian Resistance (which Aida led in social mobilisations in October 2008) as ‘terrorist organisations’.
Seven soldiers are currently on trial for Edwin’s murder, and the court case is slowly progressing. The army has produced Edwin’s father as witnesses to claim that Aida was in fact responsible for making the call to the army giving information that a ‘guerrilla chief’ was carrying arms in the car, in what Aida calls “a perverse plan to implicate me in the murder of my own husband, and at the same time change the nature of the crime from a political assassination by the state, to a crime of passion”. The next hearing in the case is in January, when testimonies and evidence will begun to be heard.
Aida and indigenous organisations from the South West of Colombia are planning an event to commemorate the anniversary of Edwin’s murder on December 16th this year. The event, which is expected to have the participation of 1500 indigenous community members as well as people from diverse social sectors, will be held in the area around Totoro municipality where Edwin was killed. The agenda will include a symbolic march on the road down which Edwin was driving, followed by interventions from indigenous and social leaders, a homage to Edwin, traditional indigenous rituals, and a report on the progress of the legal case.
Aida is requesting solidarity with the event from social organisations and individuals familiar with the case and the Colombian context. Organisations and individuals are requested to send messages of solidarity and support which can be read out in the event. Financial donations are also welcome to help with the event logistics.
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