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  HOME | Colombia (Click here for more)

Colombian Indians between Hopes of Peace with FARC and Fear of Non-Compliance

TACUEYO, Colombia – Tacueyo is among the villages most affected by the armed conflict between the FARC and the government, so its indigenous inhabitants are enthusiastic about the new cease-fire, but at the same time believe that not all the members of that guerrilla group will obey the orders of their leaders.

Since 13 months ago, when the FARC’s last unilateral cease-fire began – and which starting this Monday is bilateral and definitive – the Tacueyo Indians feel more at peace.

But it wasn’t always that way, since this village in the Toribio municipality of Cauca province was once a main theater of FARC operations in southwest Colombia.

Older people here remember numerous attacks, guerrilla occupations and battles with the army, but particularly the Tacueyo massacre 30 years ago.

Between November 1985 and January 1986, at least 164 members of a dissident wing of the FARC were executed in the cloud-covered mountains of Tacueyo by order of one of their leaders, Jose Fedor Rey, alias “Javier Delgado,” who was obsessed with the idea that his band had been infiltrated by the army.

Now that the peace accord has been signed, the Indians hope violence is a thing of the past, as EFE was told by Tacueyo’s substitute coordinator of the protected area, Misael Mosquera.

“For us, the peace accord is a basic change because, one way or another, we in the territory have had peace, but we always knew the guerrillas were here, they always have been and always will be,” he said.

The Indian leader spoke with conviction about what he normally sees in his region – guerrillas walking around like civilians and riding their SUVs down the narrow streets of the protected area.

“Not all of them will lay down their arms, they’ll just change their organization and its name, and those who don’t accept the peace will stay here,” he said.

Mosquera said he heard “that those who don’t intend to demobilize will join the ELN directly,” adding that three FARC commanders are telling those who don’t demobilize to join that guerrilla group.

The National Liberation Army, or ELN, is the second-largest rebel group in the country and has a unit operating in this area of Cauca.

Mosquera also believes “there will never be true peace” if there’s no social justice, and for that reason it is necessary “that no children die of hunger and no women are abandoned.”

“When these changes begin from the bottom up and we Indians are also included, then there will be peace,” he said.

The captain of the Toribio Indigenous Guard, Lizandro Ramos Yule, agreed with Mosquera in the sense that other illegal armed groups like the ELN, drug traffickers and criminal gangs will be interested in staying in this area for the geographic advantages of the Colombian Massif’s rugged peaks.

“I don’t believe the guerrillas will lay down all the arms that people think,” Ramos said, basically because many fear the government won’t keep its part of the bargain.


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