Siberia-Caldono, Cauca: Indigenous and Campesino Communities Rise Up Against the Murder of Éduar Fabián

By: Tejido de Comunicación - ACIN
Sunday, July 22, 2012

The inhabitants of El Crucero-El Rosario, a village situated in the La Laguna-Siberia reserve in Cauca, Colombia, got up early today. But it wasn’t to go to work in the fields; today, they’re getting together to cook food for the hundreds of indigenous community members and campesinos who have been there for days, accompanying the family of Éduar Fabián Güetio, a young man killed by the Colombian public forces.

At just 22 years of age, Éduar Fabián lost his smile and dreams to the war. Said his uncle, “my nephew wanted to study to be a mechanic, and next week he would have been heading to Bogotá to be with his uncle who lives there; instead of Bogotá, he’s in heaven.”

This past Wednesday, July 18, 2012, wasn’t a normal day for Luis Arbey, the father of Éduar Fabián. The fruit vendor gets up at 3 AM every morning to travel from El Crucero-El Rosario to bring goods to the plazas of nearby villages. That day, when he was just making his first sale, he received a phone call informing him of the death of his son. 

“Éduar Fabián was a happy boy with a lot of energy. He loved to flirt with girls. The evening before, he had stayed late at his girlfriend’s house and returned home very early in the morning to prepare breakfast for his siblings who were getting ready for school,” recalls Rubén, his uncle.

Like any young person, he loved music, and on this Wednesday, he was walking around with his headphones in his ears, listening to music on his phone. When he was just about to arrive home, he would be met by a group of soldiers who had installed themselves in the area to “provide protection.”

The inhabitants of El Crucero-El Rosario have expressed that they don’t need “protection” there, as it’s a fairly calm area where the people get up early and leave for other areas without many problems. Nevertheless, the Colombian Army installed themselves in the area, right in the middle of the civilian population. In this instance, it was beside the main water tank of the aqueduct, situated in the midst of a number of civilian homes.

Without warning or reason, upon seeing Éduar Fabián’s silhouette in the distance, one of the soldiers fired a bullet into his cheek, killing him. Initially, the soldiers wanted to present the situation as a suicide committed by one of their troops. They moved the body to a nearby place, covered it with a blanket and wouldn’t allow anyone from the community near it.

Suspicious of the soldiers’ version of events, community members called the indigenous authorities to the area to verify the facts. The indigenous gobernador recognized the body and stopped the soldiers from removing it from the area. The Indigenous Guard then took control, guarding the body and trying to calm the irate family members and neighbours who had gathered there.

As one member of the Indigenous Guard put it, the people were extremely angry with the soldiers, as they had murdered Éduar Fabián in cold blood. When the community started to become incensed with rage, not even the Indigenous Guards could hold them back. The soldiers reacted, firing rounds into the air and threatening the Guards that they would be shot if they came near them.

The indigenous community and family are now asking for justice. They have filed reports with the Attorney General and on July 18 carried out an assembly in the central plaza in Caldono. They are asking that the soldier that shot Éduar Fabián be judged by a civilian and not a military court, knowing full well that justice will not come about through the military when one of their own is in the wrong.

So far, the family’s demands have been ignored. The community members meeting in the assembly issued an ultimatum to the armed groups, giving them 3 days to leave the area before the community takes measures to force them out and retake control of the territory.

On Friday, July 20, some 500 people attended the funeral of Éduar Fabián, walking from the church to the cemetery and expressing their pain and indignation. In the streets of Siberia, passing the lines of Police, they screamed their rejection of the war. “Soldiers out!” screamed an aunt of Éduar Fabián in tears: “get the armed groups out of our territory. We don’t want any more dead. We’ve had enough of this war.”

Members from other communities and reserves arrived in support, all of them expressing their solidarity and rejection of the violence resulting from the presence of legal and illegal armed groups in indigenous and peasant communities. 

Éduar Fabián’s murder was neither error nor accident: it is part of the Territorial Consolidation Plan devised by [Colombian President Juan Manuel] Santos. This strategy imposes terror on indigenous communities in an effort to regain state control and, above all, attain access to natural resources found within indigenous territories.

In recent days, more and more public forces have been arriving in Cauca, the point of which is to deny indigenous peoples their right to autonomous control over their territories. For the past number of weeks, indigenous communities have been rising up in opposition to government policies and the hostilities of the armed groups. The reaction of the state and its mainstream media outlets has been to stigmatize and further incite violence against indigenous peoples.

Today, the indigenous of Cauca are rising up against decades of pain and war to exercise their autonomy through both word and action. We, the indigenous of northern Cauca, are in solidarity with all indigenous in Cauca because we are the same people, fighting for our Mother Earth and our autonomy. Our greatest weapon is our unity. 

Tejido de Comunicación - ACIN

Tejidocomunicacion [at] gmail [dot] com

 

Translated by Pueblos en Camino (en-camino.org for English, pueblosencamino.org en español). Original Spanish version available here: http://www.nasaacin.org/noticias/3-newsflash/4402-siberia-caldono-las-comunidades-indigenas-y-campesinas-se-levantan-frente-al-asesinato-de-eduar-fabian