Colombia: Marching with Hope


by Chris Knestrick

In 2008, the world witnessed the mobilization of tens of thousands of indigenous people demanding a new Colombia based on human rights and dignity.  The Minga, or “a gathering of people,” led by the indigenous communities of Colombia, mobilized 30,000 participants to march for six weeks from the city of Cali to Bogota, the Colombian capital.  They marched, in spite of police and military oppression, to present their five point agenda to the Colombian government and the world.

Since its initial mobilization, the Minga has gathered support from all sectors of society involved in the same struggle for land, dignity, and justice, including a coalition of the peasant farming and mining communities in Southern Bolivar which CPT accompanies (FEDEAGROMISBOL).  In October 2009, thousands of people marched in Cali, Bogota, and Cartagena.

In March 2010, the organizations in the region of the Magdalena Medio, under the leadership of the indigenous communities, met to continue the struggle to build a new Colombia.

The Minga’s agenda rejects a) Free Trade Agreements, b) the use of terror as a tool to dispossess peoples of their territories, rights, and freedoms, and c) policies that deliver indigenous territories and resources to corporate interests.  It calls for the Colombian government to honor its previous agreements and obligations to all Colombians, including indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, regardless of who heads the government.

Thus far, the Colombian government has not listened.  However, the people of Colombia will continue to struggle and march for life.  In that persistence is hope.