The Nasa People and the Liberation of Mother Earth
Globalmother.org accompanies the Nasa indigenous people of Colombia and Liberation of Mother Earth Movement. We believe that indigenous communities have a right to maintain their traditional livelihoods, agricultural practices, and their ancestral lands and customs.
The Nasa wants to return to their ancestral homes and recover lands stolen from national and transnational conglomerates. According to Emer Pinzón, “These lands, as taught by our grandparents, belonged to our ancestors,” Pinzón said. “We will take it back for our youth, at any cost.”
In the Field
The antidote to the suffering of mother earth and her resources is liberation. “We have a major threat coming: mining, for which we must prepare,” Mestizo said. “Mining creeps in more quietly than sugarcane, and sometimes the community does not see it, but we have learned that mining companies, such as [South African] Anglogold Ashanti, have requested mining permits over our land, regardless if it is on a protected area or an indigenous reserve.”
Globalmother.org recognizes that the Nasa struggle is everyone’s struggle. “This is not an issue for indigenous people in Cauca, Colombia, but it is a fundamental issue for all of humanity, whose main battlefield is here,” Mestizo explained. “We must understand and own this struggle, putting pressure on the capitalist who dispossess and abuses, and on the government that supports it.”
While broken promises and unfulfilled land agreements is one of the most important factors in the Nasa struggle. According to Arcadio Mestizo, a leader of the indigenous reserve Huellas Caloto, “We do this to reclaim our land, but also to defend our social rights.” The Nasa believes that their lands need to be liberated because they are their ancestral holdings and they have a right to them.
“Everything done on the land sickens the earth further, and this disease is treated [by] liberating Mother Earth,” Paulina, a Nasa leader from nearby Corinto, noted. “It is about sowing spaces of freedom and life that allow us to live in balance and harmony.”
Unfortunately, Colombia is rich in natural reserves of gas, petroleum, coal and other desirable minerals, which have led to transnational mineral grabbing. In addition, monocrop agribusiness ventures of sugar cane production for export and profit have replaced sustainable agricultural practices of corn, beans, and other agricultural produce for community consumption.
Why continue the Liberation of Mother Earth?
Since October 2014, the communities that make up the Association of Indigenous Councils in northern Cauca have declared ourselves in the process of liberating Mother Earth, a ritual act of reclaiming ancestral lands that are being developed in Corinto (on the plantations in Quebrada Seca, Miraflores, García Arriba, García Abajo, Granadita and Cultivos Caucana); in Santander de Quilichao (on the San Vicente and Japio plantations), and in Caloto (on the historical La Emperatriz plantation). For this same process of reclaiming our rights, we mobilized in Santander de Quilichao, Buenos Aires and Suárez in La Agustina, and Mondomo on February 25 through March 16, 2015.
The Nasa Explanation of their Liberation of Mother Earth Movement
Five important reasons for Mother Earth’s Liberation:
The first is that she has been seized for extraction and sugarcane estates, a production model that poisons and destroys, destroying human beings bit by bit. Can anybody be against the act of justice?
The second reason is because we have ancestral rights to reclaim our territories and for restitution on behalf of the State. Aside from the fact that some people may show documents to the contrary, this has been said by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights yet the Colombian government does not even budge.
The third reason is that the government and the State together (above all the Colombian Institute for Rural Development [INCODER]) have methods of titling and distributing lands that will NEVER resolve the problem. At this rate, we will need at least ONE AND A HALF CENTURIES for the restitution of our land and territories.
The fourth reason is that as the government entangles us in INCODER’s bureaucratic procedures, as they pull our hair with compensations ordered by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, as they deny us the land titling we already have and prefer to leave them in the hands of the National Agrarian Fund, as all of this happens, they expect us to be distracted by small projects and hand-outs, with small farms of 100 hectares per year, while the sugarcane industry advances like a plague through the flat lands that are the ancestral property of indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples that have spent centuries living with us. As they tell us to wait for legal proceedings, they have no problem with changing the law to advance legal mining, blinding themselves to the mining of paramilitary mafias.
And there is a fifth, distinct, reason. All of the armed actors are appropriating the lands to defend this model of displacement we have indicated and to position themselves if things should change if we eventually end this conflict.
We have responded in this way facing an economy that does not respect natural methods. We have strengthened these actions of territorial control against mining and illicit crop cultivation, in some casing evicting machinery. We have eradicated illegal crops in a concerted fashion, we have prevented armed actors from entering our land, and we have also denounced before local authorities to see if they will collaborate with indigenous authorities.