Friday, September 17, 2010

Indigenous resistance, from Colombia to Palestine

Anna Baltzer writing from Lopez, Colombia, Live from Palestine, 16 September 2010
(Anna Baltzer is an award-winning lecturer, author and activist for Palestinian rights. Author of Witness in Palestine: A Jewish American Woman in the Occupied Territories.)

""They only see our water, our land, our trees. They don't care about us. They want the land -- without the people on it."

These words are not of a Palestinian farmer but of Justo Conda, governor of Lopez Adentro Indigenous Reserve in southwestern Colombia, whose community was repeatedly threatened with displacement under former president Alvaro Uribe Velez. Uribe, recently appointed by the United Nations to investigate Israel's fatal attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, has a notoriously horrific track record on human rights. Less explored are the clear parallels between his government's mistreatment of indigenous peoples of Colombia and Israel's abuses of the indigenous people of Palestine....

It is difficult to imagine a leader as enthusiastic about Israel's repression tactics as Uribe being a fair judge as to the legality of Israel's attacks on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. His former administration's close relationship to the Jewish state alone precludes him as an impartial investigator. And although there are notable differences between the situations in Colombia and Palestine, the likeness of the Colombian and Israeli governments' responses to indigenous resistance is unmistakable. It would be not only out of character but downright hypocritical for Uribe to hold Israel accountable for the same type of behavior that characterized his own presidency.

Meanwhile, the sumoud and resilience of the indigenous Colombian people persists. Governor Conda continued, "Just as we have for five hundred years, we will continue to struggle and move forward. In fact, we are ready to work harder than ever.""

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