Indigenous Leader Assassinated - Indigenous Communities Fumigated
- AMAZON ALLIANCE
With sadness we share with you the death of Pablo Emilio Diaz Queta,
Vice-President of the Cofan Traditional Authorities of the Valle del
Guamuez and San Miguel, Putumayo, Colombia, who was assassinated by
armed actors, presumably paramilitaries, on January 3, 2001. His family
was threatened and has fled the region, along with most others in the
Cofan communities of Valle del Guamuez and San Miguel. Seventeen shamans
have decided to remain on their lands and face the increasing violence
from guerilla, paramilitary, and government forces.
Since December 22, the Colombian government with the support of U.S.
military aid, has also fumigated four indigenous communities in the
Valle del Guamuez and San Miguel, completely destroying their food
crops, gardens of medicinal and sacred plants, and fish hatcheries. The
destruction of their food sources and the increasing violence has caused
the displacement of approximately 80 families towards the neighboring
country of Ecuador.
The Cofan are a peaceful people who have worked intensively to develop
plans for peace and improved social welfare for their people. They are
asking for urgent humanitarian, technical, and economic aid to help them
face the crisis in which they find themselves.
If you are able to provide this urgently needed aid, please contact the
Latin American Association for Human Rights at <arodsal@....
More information about the death of Pablo Emilio Diaz and fumigation in
indigenous territories is provided below.
For more information about U.S. supported fumigation of illicit crops in
Colombia, please see "www.usfumigation.org" or call the Amazon Alliance
coordinating office at 1-202-785-3334.
Thank you for your help. Please circulate this message.
Betsy Boatner Amazon Alliance
Denunciation of the Assassination of Indigenous Cofan Leader of Putumayo
and of the Fumigation of Traditional Crops in Indigenous Territories and
of the Acts of Violence that Worsen the Grave Situation of Human Rights
in Putumayo, Colombia
Sat, 20 Jan 2001
The Cofan People and the Indigenas Councils of the Valle del Guamuez
and San Miguel and the Latin American Association for Human Rights
(ALDHU) DENOUNCE, before the international community the assassination
of PABLO EMILIO DIAZ QUETA, Vice-President of the Foundation of
Traditional Authorities ZIO-A'I "Union de Sabiduria," on January 3, 2001
in the municipality of San Miguel. He was killed by armed groups,
presumably paramilitaries, who shot him various times in the head and
then threw his body into the San Miguel river.
After this cruel assassination, his family was threatened and forced to
flee the region, adding to the list of women, elderly, children, and men
displaced from their territory by the increasing belligerent actions
against leaders of the communities.
Pablo was a Cofan Indian, born 27 years ago in the heart of Santa Rosa
of Sucumbios, ancestral territory of the Cofan people of the Department
of Putumayo. Brother of Taita Diomedez Díaz and grandson of Ofelia
Queta, both elders and traditional experts of the millenial science of
yage. Since his infancy, the elders, particularly his father and his
uncle Taita Querubín Queta Alvarado, maximum Traditional Authority of
the Cofan People, saw in him a special vocation that directed him to
follow spiritual learning.
This path of learning led him to be named Vice-President of the
Foundation of Traditional Authorities, created by the initiative of the
elders and directed to search for alternatives for peace, for solutions
to the conflict that lives in the region and, to guarantee the physical
and cultural survival of the 18 communities situated in the region of el
Valle del Guamuez and San Miguel.
Adding to this, on December 26, 2000, the ex-governor of the Cabildo,
HENRY PASCAL, member of the Permanent Working Assembly of the Cofan
People and his spouse, LIDIA QUETA, who was four months pregnant, were
also assassinated by paramilitaries in the community of Yarinal.
As part of the activities developing in the region, since December 22,
2000, the government has been fumigating the territories of indigenous
peoples and campesino communities, located in the Municipalities of the
Valle del Guamuez, and San Miguel, Putumayo Department. This has caused
the displacement of approximately 80 families of the communities of
Yarinal, San Marcelino and Santa Rosa de Sucumbíos - El Diviso, towards
the jungle and territories of the neighboring country of Ecuador. The
fumigation has come as a surprise since for the last two years,
communities have been engaged in a peaceful process of developing the
"Plan de Vida" in collaboration with the government which includes an
agreement for 100% manual eradication of illicit crops.
Four indigenous communities were fumigated between December 22, 2000
and January 5, 2001, devastating our traditional crops of medicinal
plants, including the sacred plant yage, and contaminating our fish
hatcheries causing serious health problems, especially among the
These acts endanger the peace process and coordination with the State
to develop the Plan de Vida of the Cofan People, a proposal we presented
so that the State could respond before the impacts which have resulted
from the activities proceeding in our territory.
Estos hechos ponen en peligro el proceso de paz y de concertación que
traemos con el Estado para desarrollar el Plan de Vida del Pueblo Cofán,
propuesta presentada por nosotros para que el Estado responda ante los
impactos producidos por las obras y acciones desarrolladas en nuestro
The affected communities are:
- NUEVA ISLA. Cofan Community of the Municipality of el Valle del
Guamuez, fumigated on December 22, 2000 at seven in the morning. The
fumigation covered the traditional crops entirely. These crops provided
sustenance for 32 families and included included yuca, platano, corn,
and fruits. Also fumigated were the chicken shed, the fish hatcheries,
and the medicinal botanic garden utilized by Taita Emiliano Queta for
healing. Finally, the plane flew over and fumigated the houses,
destroying the last possibilities for food for the families by
destroying their family gardens alongside our houses.
- SANTA ROSA DEL GUAMUEZ. Cofan Community of the Municipality of Valle
del Guamuez was fumigated on January 6, 2001. The 755 hectares of our
reserve were fumigated in their totality, destroying not only the coca
crops but also our traditional food crops, the sustenance for 50
families, the botanical gardens, the fish hatcheries, and the animal
- NUEVO HORIZONTE. Pasto Community of the Municipality of Valle del
Guamuez, was fumigated between January 1 and 4th, 2001. They fumigated
our traditional crops, the sustenance for 24 families.
- TIERRA LINDA. Paez Community of the Municipality of the Valle del
Guamuez was fumigated from December 22, 2000 to January 5, 2001. They
fumigated all of the traditional crops, sustenance for 32 families, the
medicinal gardens and fields. We have testimonies and photos of the
disaster that the fumigation has left in our community.
Given the increasing intensity of the conflict in our territories and
the violation of human rights in past days, we REQUEST that human rights
defenders, government institutions, and national and international NGOs,
advance actions in RESPECT OF OUR INDIGENOUS TERRITORIES AND PROTECTION
OF OUR LIVES.
Our peoples do not take part in the war. We are a culture of peace, of
wise people, of traditional ancestral knowledge, doctors, guardians of
nature and of life. We have a proposal for peace, dialogue and
coexistance that we have called the Plan de Vida of the Cofan People and
the Indigenous Councils of the Valle del Guamuez and San Miguel. We
require urgently humanitarian, technical, and economic assistance to
resolve the emergency humanitarian emergency in which we find ourselves.
We hope that this message will be circulated throughout the world, and
that you will take measures to support the solution to the conflict in
which we find ourselves.
We ask that governments give us the opportunity to protect the life of
our brothers and sisters who are in danger.
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