The Santos government said in the next six months, it will restructure the ownership of 400 properties which are now indigenous communities so as to respect indigenous ancestral land.
The government will also regulate health care for the indigenous communities while upholding respect for their culture and traditions.
The government has also promised a meeting between government peace negotiators and the indigenous to speak about how the FARC have wounded their communities.
For example, the indigenous consider Cauca region in the southwest their ancestral land — and it is recognized by the Colombian government. But it is also a FARC stronghold and a very important corridor for trafficking to the Pacific coast. This means not only drug smuggling, but also smuggling of arms and munitions.
It is encouraging to hear the rights of the indigenous are being talked about, as well as the preservation of their culture and traditions. Here’s to hoping talk will translate into action.
Sadly, Colombia’s indigenous languages are disappearing.
The indigenous people are often displaced by violence.
The Awa are an indigenous people who come and go between the Ecuador-Colombia border. In August 2013, UNHCR reported rumors that Colombian and Ecuadorian authorities planned to destroy bridges over the San Juan River, the border, to stop smuggling. It would impair links between the Awa people across the border but would be unlikely to slow smuggling. Many Awa in Colombia also depend on basic services provided in Ecuador.
The indigenous people have also been affected by the the aerial-spraying of coca crops.
For background on the struggle of the indigenous people in Colombia, I recommend a documentary, “Roba Tierra” (or “Land Thief”):