[translated from spanish]
An agreement for 1.3 billion pesos to be disbursed from a special government royalty collection fund was signed yesterday between the Governor of Caquetá and indigenous communities in the department.
The signing of this agreement is intended to support the organizational strengthening of at least 12 indigenous groups in the department, a process that will be led by the communities themselves, as related by Wairanina Jacanamejoy Mutumbajoy, coordinator of the Departmental Indigenous Council.
“We, the indigenous communities, recognize the hard work that has been undertaken in these stages for two years so that the indigenous communities now truly can begin the strengthening work,” she said.
The indigenous leader also added that gradually, the expectations of the communities are being fulfilled: “the exercise that we are conducting is primarily to reunite us as indigenous communities in the department.”
One of the proposals for the allocation of these resources is to create a school for leadership in the department in coordination with the indigenous education council.
“Over recent years, we having been conducting a lengthy planning exercise, and now we must once again assemble to adjust the agenda that we have developed within the communities. We know that the hard work of conservation lies before us because the project that we are undertaking is intended to enable our communities to come together to fully flesh out all relevant aspects including organization, healthcare, education, and leadership,” said Wairanina Jacanamejoy.
The main intention is to organize the “house” with respect to their ethnicities: “The idea is that they can organize their group discussion space so as to reorganize their ‘house’ and gain the opportunity to analyze and plan around the different situations that are taking place in every one of the communities; the idea is to be able to bring benefit to each of the communities according to the actual needs of the communities.”
This project is endorsed by four indigenous peoples: the Incas, the Nasa, Witotos and Coreguajes.
“It does not mean that because of the endorsement of these few communities, we are therefore not involving the other communities—in the project, we have been planning for the entirety of all indigenous peoples of the Department of Caquetá without exclusion,” the indigenous spokesperson concluded.
In turn, Carolina Gil, ACT Colombia program director, who has been working with indigenous communities in the Colombian Eastern Andean foothills region for a long time, said this exercise is of great interest and will be monitored closely for the benefit of indigenous communities.
“This is a great opportunity: today, not only is an agreement being signed to commence a joint effort with the indigenous communities and the Government, but this is the result of work undertaken to enable a fully coordinated effort, that is, the project was developed in partnership with communities with the guidance and assistance of ACT, demonstrating that they can work to achieve common goals,” she said.
The signing ceremony was attended as witnesses by the Deputy Minister of Education Roxana Segovia and the presidential ministerial appointee for Societal Dialogue, Luis Eduardo Garzón.
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