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April 2010

April 12, 2010

Wall Street Journal

The common thread linking these threats to U.S. export growth is America's current antitrade compulsions, typified by Congress's refusal to ratify free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. If Mr. Obama really wants to open new export markets, he doesn't need to slap the word "export" on new bureaucracies. He needs to honor U.S. commitments and explain the dangers of a creeping global protectionism.

April 16, 2010
Statement by the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff after meeting with General Freddy Padilla

"The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, met today at the Pentagon with Mexican Secretary of National Defense General Guillermo Galván Galván, Mexican Secretary of the Navy Admiral Mariano Francisco Saynez Mendoza, and Colombian Armed Forces Commander General Freddy Padilla de León.

The four leaders discussed a wide range of mutual security challenges over the course of the day-long session, including ongoing efforts to battle drug-related transnational crime and its associated violence.

This was the first time military leaders from these three countries met in Washington for such a purpose. Mullen was delighted with the usefulness and the candor of the discussions.

'We all have something to learn from each other, and I think our shared and positive experience over the past few years with both the Mexican military and the armed forces of Colombia will continue to be instructive as we come to grips with the regional threat posed by drug-related crime."


April 26, 2010
Statement by H.E.Fabio Valencia Cossio at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues


Ninth session
ITEM 3: Development with identity and culture

Statement by H.E. Dr. Fabio Valencia Cossio, Colombian Minister of Interior and Justice

New York, 20 April 2010

Mr. Chairman,

My delegation congratulates you on your election to chair this meeting. We express our satisfaction that a Latin American expert conducts this body, the most important one in the UN dealing with indigenous issues.

Colombia will refer today to progress achieved in economic, social and cultural rights, in the pursuit of a development process that respects the culture and identity of indigenous peoples.

Colombia currently has 1,392,623 indigenous people, which is 3.4% of the Colombian population. 4,141 indigenous communities corresponding to 82 peoples integrate the indigenous population. An area of 34 million hectares has been legally recognized as collective property of those peoples, corresponding to 30% of the national territory. This area is almost equivalent to that of Finland or the Vietnam.

The government of Alvaro Uribe Vlez has strived to guarantee the rights of indigenous peoples and has given them great importance through a direct political dialogue, headed by the President of the Republic, the Minister of Interior and Justice and the Deputy-Minister of the Interior, with a permanent presence in the reservations (resguardos) and indigenous councils, respecting the autonomy and particularities of each people.

The Ministry of Interior and Justice is responsible for the design of the public policies on indigenous issues and on human rights affairs, the latter shared with the Office of the Vice-president of the Republic.

After indigenous peoples interrupted in 2007 their participation and dialogue with the Government in the existing consultation and agreement boards, we have recovered the political dialogue with national indigenous organizations, and through Executive decrees we have restored the existing consultation spaces such as the Indigenous Permanent Consultation Board, the Human Rights National Board and the Amazon Regional Board. During 2009, 14 meetings were held in these spaces.  We also have created new spaces, such as the roundtable for the Awá people, a people that has been particularly victimized by the narco-terrorist group FARC.

As to our regulations, we would like to highlight three aspects: the recognition of the ethnic and cultural diversity in the National Constitution; the possibility for indigenous people to run for the Congress of the Republic both in the special indigenous circumscription that guarantee their representation as well as in the national electoral circumscription, thus expanding that representation; and the respect for indigenous judicial jurisdiction. In this jurisdiction, we have completed 18 pilot projects that harmonize indigenous and ordinary judicial jurisdictions. Also, we are projecting 5 indigenous justice houses where their jurisdiction is to be applied, which will be open late July this year. One of the Wayuu people is already under construction in Uribia (Guajira).

The political commitment of the Government is also reflected in two major presidential directives related to indigenous issues. First, the Directive 016 of 2006, which is called "Sectoral Policy for recognition, prevention and protection of indigenous communities, in which precise instructions are given to the General Commander of the Armed Forces and the Director of the National Police to strengthen the policy of recognition, prevention and protection of human rights of indigenous peoples' communities in the country by the Public Force.

Secondly, the Presidential Directive 01 of 2010 addressed to all administrative entities at the national level, both central and decentralized, in order to ensure the fundamental right to prior consultation within the framework of our Constitution and the ILO Convention 169.  For the first time, this directive determines a clear and unique methodology for the consultation process and the actions that require it.

At the beginning of the Government of President Uribe, in 2003 there were 3 consultation processes a year, and we have advanced to 107 processes developed in 2009, demonstrating the strengthening of consultation processes. Colombia reiterates its respect for the consultation process under the ILO Convention 169 seeking the balance between the development of the country and the rights of indigenous peoples.

The Ministry of Interior and Justice has coordinated the development of public policies with a differential approach. For example, with the Ministry of Education we have supported the ethno-education policy, aimed at rising educational standards in indigenous communities always respecting their right to self-determination.

With the Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF) nutritional supplements are offered to indigenous children in programs that prevent school dropout and promote regular attendance. With the Ministry of Social Protection we have agreed on enhancing medical care with a differential approach, through 6 indigenous health providers.

Regarding the problem of forced displacement, we have designed the Comprehensive Plan to Support Indigenous Communities and High Risk of Vulnerability and Risk of Extinction, specially that caused by illegal actions of the narco-terrorist groups and criminal gangs. The Plan was approved by the National Council for Integral Attention to the Displaced Population, and responds to the recommendation No. 5 of the previous rapporteur on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples, Professor Rodolfo Stavenhagen. This plan identifies intersectoral actions through consultation in regional workshops with departmental, national and local institutions and indigenous authorities and organizations, with concrete institutional, budgetary and specific commitments.

We have promoted productive projects for indigenous communities. For example, the hotel in Tierradentro (Cauca) attended and administered by indigenous people, promoting ethno-tourism. We have promoted partnerships with the National Federation of Coffee Growers for the marketing and export of coffee from Tierradentro, which is being sold in the stores Juan Valdez in the world.

We have worked for the compliance with agreements made with indigenous peoples, even those adopted by previous governments. This is the case of the Social and Community Minga, in which we recovered more than 2,000 commitments made from the late 80s by previous national governments with our indigenous brothers. Through a process of dialogue and consultation, we agreed actions related to 400 issues, with commitments and deadlines to meet.

Our goal to pay this social debt has been renewed, working on the basis of institutionally and economically viable solutions, and progress is certainly made in education, land and environment, despite the complexity and disparity of views that persist in these and other subjects. For example, in relation to the terrible massacre of El Nilo in 1991, a commitment was made then, as a State reparation for the indigenous Paez people, to recognize the property on 15,663 Hectares of land for the victims; at the beginning of the present Government only 800 Hectares had been recognized; today, after 8 years, we are at 84% percent of compliance, pending 2,200 hectares that are already prioritized by the indigenous peoples concerned, having resources in the national budget by 8,000 million pesos, allocated for that purpose; we are awaiting the response of the peoples concerned achieve the total compliance with this commitment before the end of the Government of President Uribe.

On the other hand, in the last two years, about 50 intercultural and inter-ethnic conflicts have been addressed in a comprehensive and sustained manner. Conflicts that took years of radicalization have been overcome and have resulted in case-law developments, prevention strategies and deepening of coordination mechanisms that are translated into regional approaches and strategies.

By the Decision 004/2009 issued by the Constitutional Court in the context of the Sentence T-025 of 2004, the Government has had the opportunity to design a national program of guarantees for indigenous peoples that is being subjected to the prior consultation process with all of indigenous peoples and communities in the country, for its further implementation.

Likewise, 14 of a total 34 Safeguard Plans ordered by the Constitutional Court have been also designed, and agreed individually with each people and its legitimately recognized authorities.

From 2008 to 2010, 46 ethnological assessments were carried out, and 6 agreements were signed to carry out other 40 ethnological studies, for a total of 86 at the end of this year. This, in order to establish the recognition of new indigenous communities, their subsequent registration and promotion of their rights.

As noted above, the national census of 2005 recognized 3.4% of the total national population as indigenous people; 49.6% are women. From these figures, we understand the fundamental role of indigenous women in the survival of the peoples. For this reason, several spaces have been provided for indigenous women to meet internally even if they do not belong to a national organization. We have agreed with them a program for empowerment and safeguarding of indigenous women, whose first phase will be completed in the second half of this year and the second phase in 2011. Its focus emphasizes training topics, cross-cultural practices, uses and customs.

Under the protection program of the Ministry of Interior and Justice, we have agreed the relevant measures of individual and collective security for indigenous people, with differential approach. We now have 283 leaders which are covered in the program, and 1,171 measures implemented. For example, satellite phones, support in transport or relocation, among others.

Regarding the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, we maintain our position to reaffirm our support for its spirit in accordance with our Constitution and laws. As you can verify, the facts aforementioned are in line with the aspirations reflected in the Declaration.

To give certainty to the stability and continuity of indigenous policy vis--vis the next change of government, we are developing an economic and social policy document CONPES, before completing the term of President Uribe. This will be the framework of a long term State policy, which will include public policy guidelines that have been agreed with all the national indigenous organizations, as well as the methodology for the design and consultation of the 34 Safeguard plans in order to replicate it in 48 additional plans, so the 82 indigenous peoples of Colombia will have a plan articulated with their culture, lifestyle and identity.

The Government policies will continue to strive for the protection of human rights of indigenous peoples, their culture, customs, their land, respect for their own education and jurisdiction, all framed in the compliance with the Colombian Constitution. We will continue to make every effort to protect indigenous communities affected by violent actions of illegal groups and of official individuals that act in contravention of the policy of the government of lvaro Uribe Vlez.

I avails myself of this opportunity to inform that Colombia has nominated Mr. Gabriel Muyuy as candidate in the election of the nest Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Gabriel Muyuy is a outstanding indigenous leader. He was elected Senator of Colombia in the indigenous circumscription and has been Ombudsman Delegate for Indigenous Affairs, as well as professor and representative of indigenous communities and peoples that have also expressed their support to his candidacy through their main national organizations.

Finally, I take this opportunity to thank, on behalf of the Government of Colombia, the cooperation offered by the United Nations in some of the above-mentioned initiatives, in particular those aimed at strengthening the protection and promotion of rights and the development, culture and identity of the indigenous peoples.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.