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Indigenous Leader Assassinated - Indigenous Communities Fumigated

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    AMAZON ALLIANCE Dear Friends, With sadness we share with you the death of Pablo Emilio Diaz Queta, Vice-President of the Cofan Traditional Authorities of the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 25, 2001
      AMAZON ALLIANCE

      Dear Friends,

      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.

      Sincerely,

      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
      children.

      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
      territorio.

      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
      breeding places.

      - 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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