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An attack against an indigenous senator sets off alarms for political violence in Colombia

Feliciano Valencia, leader of the Nasa community, was one of the promoters of the indigenous minga.LUIS ROBAYO / AFP

“I have just suffered an attempt on my life on the road that leads between the township of El Palo and Tacueyó, at the El Tierrero point in Toribío, Cauca. I came out unscathed thanks to Mother Nature ”. This was the announcement of the Colombian congressman Feliciano Valencia after the shooting attack who suffered his truck in southwest Colombia. Valencia is one of the most recognized indigenous leaders in the country and a senator for the Indigenous and Social Alternative Movement (MAIS). Days ago he was one of the promoters of the mobilization of more than 8,000 indigenous people towards Bogotá, known as minga.

The complaint, published on his Twitter account and from which images of shots against the armored vehicle have been known, caused outrage among personalities who considered it another proof of the increase in political violence after the murder of social leaders, signatories of the agreement of peace, as well as militants from opposition political movements. “We are not going to allow one more death in this country for political reasons because of what is thought and what is done,” said the representative to the Chamber María José Pizarro.

Officials from the government of Iván Duque also rejected the attack, for which those responsible are not yet known. “I know that the authorities will act firmly to find the criminals who do so much damage to social leaders and therefore to the country. All my solidarity, ”said Vice President Martha Lucía Ramírez, while the Minister of the Interior, Alicia Arango, announced that the senator was in a safe place and protected by the Indigenous Guard, the group that provides security to the communities of southwestern Colombia . “He was offered to be evacuated from the area by helicopter but assured that it is not necessary,” Arango reported during the session of the Third Committee of the Senate. The head of the political portfolio added that in the area of ​​the attack there is a presence of a group of dissidents from the extinct FARC and that the Prosecutor’s Office and an elite Corps of the Criminal Investigation Directorate of the Police are already carrying out the investigations.

The attack on the indigenous senator takes place a week after the peaceful mobilization that several peoples made to the Colombian capital to request a meeting with President Iván Duque. They traveled in huge caravans to demand that the Government protect them, but they returned to their territories when they were not received by the president. According to the NGO Indepaz, at least 167 indigenous leaders have been assassinated during Duque’s presidency. The event also occurs amid strong stigmatization against indigenous communities and against social protest from right-wing political sectors and those related to the ruling party, the Democratic Center.

After the attack, opposition congressmen insist on holding an urgent meeting with President Duque to establish guarantees of political exercise. In recent days, militants of the Colombia Humana movement, led by former presidential candidate Gustavo Petro, have been assassinated. The representative to the Chamber María José Pizarro held the president responsible for what may happen to them. “How many more threats and attacks do we have to wait for you to comply with the Statute of the Opposition, which is to build a security plan for all leaders of the political opposition in this country,” said the congresswoman.