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Minorities At Risk Project: Home    

Chronology for Indigenous Peoples in Colombia

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Date(s) Item
1988 - 1990 The government of Virgilio Barco decentralized the state and promoted peace between the armed guerrilla groups and the government Indigenous groups combined to elect 2 representatives through the political party of Democratic Alliance M-19 and National Salvation and also were awarded one representative in the National Assembly through the peace accord.
1990 ONIC held its Second National Indian Congress. Also, Inga Indian Gabriel Muyuy Jacanamejoy was elected as vice-president of ONIC and participated in the National Constituent Assembly as a special indigenous representative to reform the constitution.
Jan 23, 1990 About 70,000 Amazonian Indians were awarded land grants to over 69,500 square miles of land, which is approximately half of Colombia's Amazonian region.
Dec 1990 During elections for the National Constituent Assembly, the M-19 party won 27% of the vote, or 19 seats (which was supported by indigenous people), the National Salvation (also supported by indigenous people) won 11 seats, and 2 seats were won by indigenous leaders. Also, the Association of Peasant Workers of Carare won the Right Livelihood Award by the Swedish Parliament for promoting peace against guerrilla groups in their town. This organization consisted of indigenous and non-indigenous members.
1991 The Inter-institutional Committee for the Development of Indigenous Communities of the Cauca and the Project for Promotion of Farm Products and Cooperative Development for Indigenous Communities of Northeast Cuaca (PPCI) was founded for the purposes of the nonviolent eradication of poppy seeds (from which comes heroine); the improvement of education; and the improvement of public health programs. In Guajira Dept., the Wayuu Indians and the national government agreed upon an accord to protect Wayuu Indian territories. Also, the Arhuaco Indians and the Ministry of Education made an agreement for bilingual and multicultural education in their region. Internationally, the European Union and ONIC signed an agreement to form work teams to carry out development projects in indigenous territories. The Indigenous Social Alliance formed to organize blacks and Indians in a political party to gain representation for ethnic minorities. Also in 1991, the new constitution was passed in the National Assembly. This constitution guaranteed minority rights and specifically recognized the rights of indigenous people and the ethnic and cultural diversity of the country, as well as the recognition of indigenous languages as official in the regions in which they reside. It also provided for indigenous territories and protection of human rights and judicial procedure. Furthermore, indigenous people were guaranteed 2 elected representatives through indigenous elections and one by national vote in the Senate of the Republic. In the Chamber of Representatives, indigenous people are reserved two seats.
Apr 19, 1991 The guerrilla group M-19 relinquished its arms and transformed itself into a political party.
Jul 17, 1991 Guerrilla groups killed two policemen and attempted to kidnap the mayor of Cali in response to the announcement by geologists that Colombia has double the oil reserves which they thought it had. The guerrilla groups are fighting the intrusion of commercial interests on the land and are partially composed of indigenous members.
Oct 27, 1991 Inga Indian Gabriel Muyuy Jacanamejoy (from the Amazonian department of Putumayo) was elected to the Senate of the National Constituent Assembly. This election was under the new voting procedures specified in the reformed constitution.
Dec 1991 El Nilo massacre occurred in which 20 Paez Indians attending a community meeting were murdered by hooded gunmen. Reasons for this attack were not reported.
Mar 9, 1992 The Washington Post reported that political killings accounted for over 3,500 deaths in 1991 and are on the rise. Guerrilla groups (composed partially of Indians) have formed in the Amazon region in opposition to the development of land. Also, drug-related killings were a form of violence and death in the country. The guerrilla activity in this region was reported to have been carried out by the FARC and the ELN (People's Liberation Army).
Mar 10, 1992 The Christian Science Monitor reported that members of FARC and ELN met in Tlaxcala, Mexico for peace negotiations.
May 1992 Guerrilla groups attacked the north-central province of Antioquia and killed over 40 people.
Oct 7, 1992 In Coyaima, Tolima department, 500 Indians marched in protest over land territory which has not been awarded to them by the government. They stated their demands in the capital city of Ibague.
Oct 12, 1992 Thousands of Indians marched in the streets in protest of the 500 Year Celebration of Colombus's discovery of the Americas.
Oct 18, 1992 500 people were left homeless and 20 injured due to an earthquake which hit one of the poorest regions of Colombia in the northwest, near Antioquia. This region is highly populated by indigenous people.
Nov 9, 1992 President Gaviria declared a national state of emergency after guerrilla groups set off 30 bombs across the country, killing 9 people and wounding 60.
Nov 21, 1992 Indigenous people in the El Cerrejon department of northern Colombia protested the coal mining companies which have extracted resources from their land and have inhabited their territories.
Dec 8, 1992 President Gaviria Trujillo announced that foreign firms or banks which conduct business with or fund guerrilla groups will face severe penalties.
1993 Law 48 was passed by the National Assembly to exempt Indians from mandatory military service under two conditions 1) Indians must remain in their territory, and 2) Indians must maintain their "economic, cultural, and social nature as Indians." Moreover, the Law of Resources and Transfers was passed which ensured that indigenous municipalities and resguardos received their share of state resources. (To this date, this has not been implemented). Throughout this year, guerrilla groups increased their violence in rural areas (where many indigenous people live), as reported by Amnesty International. Also, the Andean Commission of Jurists reported that Colombia had the highest rate of assassinations in the world.
Dec 1993 The U.S. Department of State reported that indigenous people were being attacked by military and guerrilla groups and were forced to leave their farms due to counterinsurgency operations by the military.
Jan 1994 In the western town of Las Chinitas (inhabited by many indigenous and black people) guerrilla groups (FARC and ELN) attacked and killed 38 people in the streets. The Zenu community (c.e., 40,000) in the departments of Sucre and Cordoba was reported to have been attacked by guerrilla groups (FARC and ELN) in response to the Zenus' efforts to protect their land from commercial interests, drug traffickers, and guerrilla activity.
Jun 9, 1994 250 people died due to an earthquake and floods in the Paez and Indian mountain valleys, heavily populated by indigenous people.
1995 Guerrilla groups continue to kill indigenous people, as reported by Reuter's. The military has killed indigenous people in its efforts to stop insurgency. The military also perceives indigenous people as participants in guerrilla movements.
Feb 1995 Cholera outbreak in the indigenous communities of western Colombia killed over 50 people. The group most affected by the disease were the Guanana of the western region.
Apr 18, 2004 An estimated 600 Wayuu fled to Venezuela after paramilitaries raided Bahia Portete, torturing and killing at least four Wayuu members and abducting several more. (US Department of State. 02/28/2005. "Country Reports on Human Rights-2004: Colombia." Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.)
Jun 22 - 22, 2004 Paramilitaries kidnapped and killed four Wayuu members from Maicao accusing them of collaborating with FARC. (US Department of State. 02/28/2005. "Country Reports on Human Rights-2004: Colombia." Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.)
Aug 3, 2004 In Valledupar, Fredy Arias was assassinated by suspected paramilitaries. He served as the spokesman and human rights coordinator for the Kankuamo indigenous peoples. (US Department of State. 02/28/2005. "Country Reports on Human Rights-2004: Colombia." Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.)
Aug 21, 2004 FARC militants kidnapped indigenous Toribio mayor, Arquimedes Vitonas. (US Department of State. 02/28/2005. "Country Reports on Human Rights-2004: Colombia." Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.)
Aug 26, 2004 FARC and ELN militants kidnapped indigenous Ricaurte mayor, Orlando Hernandez. (US Department of State. 02/28/2005. "Country Reports on Human Rights-2004: Colombia." Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.)
Apr 2005 Several indigenous died after fighting broke out between FARC and government forces. (US Department of State. 03/08/2006. "Country Reports on Human Rights-2005: Colombia." Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.)
Jun 14, 2005 In Tame, FARC militants kidnapped 16 indigenous children. (US Department of State. 03/08/2006. "Country Reports on Human Rights-2005: Colombia." Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.)
Feb 26, 2006 FARC 10th Front militants assassinated indigenous governor Juan Ramirez. (US Department of State. 03/06/2007. "Country Reports on Human Rights-2006: Colombia." Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.)
Mar 31, 2006 While on his way to a funeral, indigenous leader John Jairo Osorio Piraza was killed by FARC militants. (US Department of State. 03/06/2007. "Country Reports on Human Rights-2006: Colombia." Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.)
May 16, 2006 Approximately 6,000 members of indigenous tribes protested the reelection of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. When police responded, clashes ensued and 15 were injured. (Associated Press, 5/16/2006, "15 injured in Colombian protests against free-trade agreement, president")

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Information current as of July 16, 2010