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Drug Wars Promote Settler Colonialism

The Nasa—an Indigenous group in Colombia—want their land back, and they want it back now. To demonstrate their resolve, they’re employing eco-terrorism in an eco-friendly way to sabotage agricultural crops of colonial origins or ownership while simultaneously confronting Colombia’s illicit drug industry over its unlicensed use of their land. The Nasa’s goals have not won them many friends:

Since 2015, they have been carrying out direct actions in which they cut down cane fields, plant organic crops in their place, and allow the native vegetation to cover additional areas within the same reclaimed lands. They call this action “the liberation of Mother Earth,” […]

Since the signing of the Peace Agreement between FARC and the government, the United Nations Security Council in Colombia had verified 226 murders through March 2019. The accord led to the formation of armed dissident groups that splintered from the FARC, including right-wing paramilitary groups like The Black Eagles (Las Águilas Negras) — a decade-old moniker adopted by many disparate groups to spread fear — and an increased presence of organized crime groups, who “are fighting over territory for marijuana and poppy cultivation,” said José.

In 1991 a new constitution was enacted in Colombia that included Indigenous peoples’ rights, but according to the Nasa peoples’ documentation, between 1991 and 2005, “15 massacres were carried out in those years, with more than 500 dead.” … [More recently] two members of the Indigenous Guard from the San Francisco reservation in the municipality of Caloto had been killed by an armed group. Five people were also wounded, among them a 7-year-old boy.

“Who did it? It’s an armed group that’s trying to control and manage the drug trade and this has us very concerned, because the threats continue to be very frequent in our territory,” said one of the traditional leaders of the Nasa people, who spoke anonymously for security reasons.

The Nasa and the Liberators of Mother Earth believe that with these development policies, Indigenous people will continue to remain repressed. “The new government says that they’re not going to buy even one more meter of land for Indigenous peoples and they will neither create nor recognize more collective territories for Indigenous peoples,” said José. “On the contrary, the government says that these lands have to join in the development of capitalism. We don’t want to join; we want to liberate the land and live simply.”

Diana, a young Indigenous woman who introduced herself only by her first name, is responsible for the political education of the young people in this village of liberators. “We’re on maximum emergency alert because they’re killing us, and it’s so painful that this is happening in the north of Cauca,” … “Their development policies — and the planting of illicit crops that the government supports — are destroying our way of life.” […]

The history of settler colonialism is rich with the profits from drug wars as prohibitions tend to provide a wide variety of efficient and inhumane tools to repress civilians as well as earth’s liberators.

Examples include Colombian government drug war hype that conflates Indigenous people like the Nasa with FARC. Using similar strategies, international mining and oil companies operating in Mexico are infamous for terrorizing the Indigenous into abandoning their homes and land by getting the government or military to arrest young village men on false drug charges, or by staging phony drug raids outside villages at night, sometimes setting off incendiaries encompassing ten-meter flash zones and sending shrapnel into villages that endangers children and the elderly.

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2 comments to Drug Wars Promote Settler Colonialism

  • Daniel Williams

    I recall someone telling me that using the term *indigenous* was a no-no. Is this a “Do as I say, not as I do” moment, Servetus?

    • Servetus

      Only in Bolivia. The author didn’t explain why Bolivians don’t like the word, unless they think it stereotypes them, and they want their specific identity recognized.

      Bolivia is very diverse. Several dozen different languages or dialects are spoken in Bolivia.