The president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, invited this Tuesday the indigenous people of his country not only to resist, as they have done for decades, but also to govern together with him, as they already will. three members of those communities whom he appointed to important positions in his government.

“I invite you not only to resist because you have to continue resisting, but to govern to really change the country,” Petro said during the High-Level Dialogue in the framework of the commemoration of the International Day of Indigenous Peoples.

The president, who received during the ceremony a baton made by a senior indigenous guard from the Amazon, stressed that “indigenous struggles, resistance, have achieved triumphs in Colombian regulations that seem to be more rhetorical How real.”

However, he appreciated that “the communities have advanced more (with respect to) the situation we had 50 years ago” because they have “acquired spiritual, cultural and undoubtedly organizational power.”


So far, the Petro government will include Leonor Zalabata, from the Arhuaca community, as ambassador to the UN in New York; former truth commissioner Patricia Tobón, from the Embera community, as director of the Unit for Comprehensive Care and Reparation for Victims, and sociologist Giovani Yule, member of the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC), as director of the Unit of Land Restitution.

“Leonor is the representative of all of Colombia -with its indigenous peoples and with its non-indigenous peoples- before the world, before Humanity”, as is the UN, added Petro.

Along these lines, the president said that, despite its presence in the government, “the indigenous movement has to continue independently” of the Executive and “strengthen itself, discuss and criticize the government, if necessary.”

“But they also have to take on a task: they are also within the government and then they have to govern not only for themselves, but for the whole of society with all its complexity,” Petro said.


The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), for its part, recognized the contribution that the communities have made to the construction of peace, especially its work as a transitional court created to judge the crimes of the Colombian armed conflict.

According to JEP figures, collected from 57 reports submitted by social organizations and state agencies, 115 indigenous peoples were victims of the armed conflict.

“In the midst of the armed conflict and an unfavorable context, the indigenous peoples continue forward, resisting violence and have been weavers of life, peace and knowledge,” added the JEP.

The JEP highlighted that Colombian indigenous people actively participated in the social movement that led to the 1991 Constituent Assembly, as well as in the negotiations that led to the signing of a peace agreement with the FARC guerrillas in 2016.

“The indigenous peoples of Colombia have been defenders of peace. They have safeguarded ancient knowledge and cultures that today provide a sustainable vision of life and territory,” the information added.

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