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Colombia’s Indigenous Peoples Confront the Armed Conflict

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Abstract

In the last third of the twentieth century, Colombia’s indigenous peoples emerged as a political force in the national arena. This chapter discusses the indigenous movement’s surprising degree of clout—surprising because only 2 percent of the nation’s citizens are indigenous—and the ways the current crisis is affecting them. Following an overview of the country’s indigenous communities (pueblos1) and a brief history of indigenous mobilizing, I examine indigenous participation during the National Constituent Assembly (Asamblea Nacional Constituyente, henceforth ANC) and the crafting of the 1991 Constitution. The constitution’s successes and failures are then taken up, focusing on indigenous matters, followed by a discussion of the situation of the country’s indigenous pueblos, focusing on the intractable and intensifying problems the country is currently facing. The chapter ends with some comments on the role of U.S. policy.

In Colombia, thanks to all who have helped my research on indigenous organizing, in particular Raúl Arango, Jaime Arocha, Ana Cecilia Betancourt, Guillermo Carmona, François Correa, Martín Franco, Segisfrcdo Franco, Abadio Green, Leonor Herrera, Víctor Jacanamejoy, Myriam Jimeno, Gladys Jimcno, Hernando Munoz, Guillermo Padilla, Roberto Pineda, María Clemencia Ramírez, Elizabeth Reichel, Esther Sanchez, María Lucía Sotomayor, Adolfo Triana, Enrique Sanchez, Roque Roldan, Carlos Uribe, Martin von Hildebrand, Simdn Valencia, Miguel Vazquez, the Instituto Colombiano de Antropología, the Department of Anthropology at the Universidad dc los Andes, various members of the Regional Indigenous Council of the Vaupés—Consejo Regional Indígcna del Vaupés (CRIVA), and various officials of the Organizacion Nacional de Indigenas de Colombia (ONIC). Trips to Colombia (1985, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, and 2000) have been funded in part by the Deans Office, School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, M.I.T. For help thinking through the ideas presented here, thanks to Cristina Rojas, James Howe, and Donna Van Cott. All translations are my own. The responsibility for the ideas set forth here is entirely my own.

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© 2005 Cristina Rojas and Judy Meltzer

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Jackson, J.E. (2005). Colombia’s Indigenous Peoples Confront the Armed Conflict. In: Rojas, C., Meltzer, J. (eds) Elusive Peace: International, National, and Local Dimensions of Conflict in Colombia. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-137-09105-5_8

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