Written by: Maria de Pilar Urrea, English teacher
6 months ago when I was going to Bogotá, I was thinking about how lucky I was to live in a town on the outskirts of the capital. It was a sunny day and it had rained a lot. The crops and the landscape offered an infinite variety of colors. While several people were getting on the bus, in front of the flower crop, a hummingbird appeared looking for some nectar in one of the flowers of the trees that were next to the road. I remembered a painting and an article about the work of a muralist from Cauca, Dumar Mestizo.
Dumar was a member of the Alvaro Ulcue Chocue Youth Movement, an organization founded in 1980, its mission has been to train indigenous people in different Art knowledge. Dumar was a muralist and a teacher in the Ethnic Generations program. He intervened large walls in which he expressed his messages of peace. He was a leader in the campaign against the recruitment of young people by armed groups in the area, and helped strengthen seedbeds of authority in educational institutions. On October 4th 2019, Dumar could not finish a mural he was making with his students. He was another of the many indigenous people of Cauca, who throughout the history of Colombia, has had to suffer abuse and various forms of violence both during the Spanish Invasion, The Colonization, through different forms of exclusion and discrimination imposed by the dominant culture, by state policies, landowners, insurgency, The self-defense or public force; and recently, globalization and the Free Trade Area for the Americas – ALCA, as well as the actions of corrupt politicians who use the ambiguity of the law to strip them and increase their property throughout the Colombian territory.
kBut the resilience of the indigenous people and their stoicism to stand up and take care of their cultures, have turned the indigenous people into important social and political actors that contribute to the peace process and democracy of the country. The indigenous people of Cauca generated the indigenous movement in Colombia, committing themselves to proposals and non-violent actions with the objective of strengthening, recovering and protecting their cultures, offering more human and hopeful life models through political, educational, productive and environmental projects. In 1971, the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca – CRIC was created and non-violent strategies such as dialogue, “indigenous guard”, civil resistance manuals, training for civil resistance, permanent assemblies, mass mobilizations, mingas in resistance, the pronouncements of autonomy and direct non-violent actions for the protection of the communities, the defense of the autonomy and the liberation of the kidnapped.
Fortunately not only indigenous people are organizing to build peace. In 2008 a group of young people from the National University helped an indigenous community of Cauca. They participated in a call raised by Social Action and the European Union, to propose a project that focused on the recovery of ancestral knowledge. The project was developed in the municipality of INZA Cauca, to the indigenous shelter of YAQUIVA. It was framed in productivity, however, this group of young people also came with the idea of making a school with the indigenous worldview, and because of the needs of the community, it had to be taken as a starting point. In this way, they sought to rescue their NASA language in the first instance, and then, promote the planting of sacred and medicinal plants, along with the promotion of their ancestral tasks such as weaving and grazing. It was this educational plan, after 8 months, that made it possible to transform into an agro-industrial opportunities for the community and for 4 years the construction of the YAQUIVA Indigenous Shelter School has become a reality.
In each of us there is an indigenous part that claims to reconnect with nature and our roots. Someone will soon continue painting murals just like Dumar Mestizo reviving and recreating the desire for peace of all indigenous cultures. National and international organizations will also continue to support the recovery of their territory, language, own medicine, rites and custom, expansion of safeguards, education, community participation and political participation at all levels.
And…what is our commitment?