INDIGENOUS KUNA LEADERS (PANAMA) ASSASINATED BY COLOMBIAN PARAMILITARIES
On Saturday the 18th of January four Indigenous Kuna leaders, were violently tortured and assassinated by the Autonomous Defense Units of Colombia (AUC).
1) Translated Statement and Media Advisory from the Indigenous Movement
of Panama on the death of 4 Kuna Indigenous leaders
2) Translated Article from La Prensa about this murder
3) Original Article in Spanish from La Prensa
4) Article from Panama- Panamanian patrols to hunt for missing Americans
*******Media Advisory****Media Advisory*******
FOUR INDIGENOUS KUNA LEADERS ASSASINATED BY COLOMBIAN PARAMILITARIES
NEAR PANAMA BORDER. OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM THE INDIGENOUS MOVEMENT OF
Brendan O'Neill, ASEJ/ACERCA - 802-863-0571 or
Official Statement from the Indigenous Movement of Panama
Dear brothers and sisters from various organizations and communities of the world that fight against violence, against war, and against hunger-today we wish to mobilize against the War on Indigenous Peoples. On Saturday the 18th of January four Indigenous Kuna leaders, were violently tortured and assassinated by the Autonomous Defense Units of Colombia (AUC). These Indigenous spiritual leaders, are medicine men that hold the principal knowledge of our oral history, poets of truth, knowledgeable in medicine, the holders of our cultural heritage, the soul of our community, and are the maximum authority of the Paya and Pucuro communities. Four pillars of our community have been killed, if we compare this to western culture it is to say that our library of congress, our chief justice of magistracy, our minister of culture, our Nobel Peace Prize winners were killed. In the past years paramilitaries have assassinated indigenous teachers in Panama and an Embera Indigenous child Maria Mecha Tocamo.
This past Saturday 50 Colombian insurgents tore apart the Paya Community, closed in the community, asked for the indigenous authorities to present themselves and then took them outside the community to torture them, and slash their throats. Upon hearing the various detonations from the Paya community the paramilitaries fled leaving the Pucuro community in flames. This was all confirmed by the only survivor, who followed the paramilitaries for one hour, his throat slashed and his stomach openly bleeding, to solicit help from the Pucuro community.
Not stopping at the assassinations of the Indigenous authorities, the AUC, planted land mines surrounding the community to prevent the Kuna to leave. They took all of the food from the only food warehouse that existed in the community and threatened the population for supposedly collaborating with the guerilla Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Since 1964 through 1998 there was a Cartel of the Armed Forces of Panama that safeguarded the lives of the Paya and Pucuro residents, but since then, although the Indigenous authorities have solicited support from the Police forces of Panama, they have been denied support to defend the borders in the Darien.
Now there are more than 700 people displaced, of the Paya and Pucuro Communities, the majority children, they are seeking refuge in Boca Cupe, who and are waiting for the Panamanian authorities to provide security for the area- not even one of the community members are prepared to abandon their ancestral lands.
As Kuna, we have lived more than 100 years on these lands, and now there is an intention to destroy the peace of our Indigenous communities, selectively assassinating Colombian and Panamanian Indigenous leaders. It is because of this that we are opposed and against the imposition of the FTAA, the Plan Puebla Panama, Andean Plan, and Plan Colombia that are policies to exterminate the communities of the Americas, to expropriate indigenous territories, our collective knowledge, oil, water, land and our cultural and biological heritage.
Ernesto Ayala, Maximum Authority; San Pascual Ayala, Secondary
Authority; Luis Enrique Martínez, Spiritual Leader of the Paya and
Gilberto Vásquez, Maximum Authority of Púcuro, now join the list of thousands of martyrs who have offered their lives for the liberation of the Indigenous Communities of the World.
Panama, February 22, 2003
Ibe /kuna de Panama
Movimiento Indigena de Panama
ACERCA/ASEJ received this statement from The Kuna Youth Indigenous Movement askin for international solidarity to condemn the violence of Plan Colombia that has moved over into Panama and caused this murder of 4 Kuna Indigenous spiritual and political leaders. There is a national meeting today 1/23/03 of all indigenous leaders of Panama to coordinate a response to this tragedy.
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