The sixth front of the FARC cowardly murdered the ex-councillor and indigenous leader of the community of Toribio, Cauca.
Indignation, condemnation, pain and fury are being felt by the Nasa people of northern Cauca after the vile murder of our great fighter Salatiel Méndez Secue, 40 years of age, a commoner, former councillor to the ASI [Alianza Social Indígena] and indigenous leader belonging to the reserve and municipality of Toribio, Cauca.
The events occurred on 3 October 2012, in the area known as la Chivera, or the vereda of Los Chorros, when Salatiel Méndez was travelling with his wife from Toribio to the town of Santander de Quilichao. Just as Salatiel stopped to try to repair the motorbike three heavily armed gunmen on a motorcycle, two of them ‘indigenous’ and one with a fair complexion, shot him several times with handguns and, before leaving, finished him off with rifles before taking his bike with them and fleeing to higher ground.
There are a number of concerns, doubts and fears that afflict us, the region’s communities and traditional authorities grouped in the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca, ACIN – Cxhab Wala Kiwe regarding this act of violence, and others, over the past two months.
1. La Chivera or the vereda of Los Chorros, where Salatiel was killed, is located only a kilometre and a half away from the urban area of the El Palo township. Just to get to this place, up from Palo towards Toribio, it is necessary to pass through two national army checkpoints, that is to say, the FARC militias murdered Salatiel a mere one and a half kilometres from this military checkpoint.
2. With the assassination of Salatiel Méndez there have been 40 violent deaths so far in 2012 in northern Cauca, and 24 murders since the time that communities, authorities and the Indigenous Guard strengthened the exercise of territorial control, involving the cleansing of armed actors in the El Berlin sacred hill, and threatening leaflets appeared signed by the AUC Bloque Capital, Águilas Negras, Rastrojos, the Columna Móvil Gabriel Galvis of the FARC and the Columna Móvil Jacobo Arenas of the FARC.
3. The 24 murders since the events in El Berlin, where children, youths and spiritual leaders were slaughtered, have all occurred in one of the routes most militarized by the national army of Cauca department, the route by which Caloto leads to the towns of Corintio and Toribio. Eight military checkpoints have to be passed to reach Toribio and Corintio.
Meanwhile, while us communities and traditional authorities, who uphold commitments agreed with the government, converse in Popayán, people continue to be massacred without mercy until effective mechanisms are firmly established to investigate, punish, prevent and protect communities which are victims of the armed conflict.
The communities, authorities, leaders and territories of northern Cauca, enjoy and benefit from precautionary measures from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, recommendations from the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and from the compliance with judicial orders by the Constitutional Court (Decision 004), among other national and international measures.
Gentlemen of the Government, gentlemen of the FARC, what kind of peace are you talking about, and what kind of peace are you negotiating, if communities continue to be defencelessly massacred in a war that you created?
Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca, ACIN – Cxhab Wala Kiwe, Santander de Quilichao Cauca, 3 October 2012.