PBI-Colombia notes kidnapping of now-released Indigenous Embera environmental guard Jesús Bailarín by AGC paramilitary

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Image: Contagio Radio.

On January 17, the Peace Brigades International-Colombia Project tweeted: “[The Inter-Church Commission for Justice and Peace/CIPJ] reports that Embera leader Jesús Bailarín of Jiguamiandó has been detained by paramilitaries tonight.” 

The CIPJ subsequently reported that after an hour and forty minutes of being held by the Gaitanista Self-Defenses of Colombia (AGC) and falsely accused as being a member of the National Liberation Army (ELN), Bailarín was released.

Bailarín is a member of the environmental guard of the Indigenous Embera Nuevo Cañaveral reserve located in the collective territory of Jiguamiandó in the Bajo (lower) Atrato region of the department of Chocó.

Mongabay has explained: “Chocó has been the site of heavy clashes between armed groups looking to secure control of the region’s lucrative coca trade, trafficking routes, and artisanal gold mining industry.”

Contagio Radio adds: “Indigenous communities have always opposed illegal and extractive operations that seek to develop in the region.”

That article also notes: “Since September 2020, AGC paramilitaries have threatened indigenous communities after [the communities] eradicated more than 150 hectares of foreign-sown coca on their lands.”

AlCarajo.org further reports that the CIPJ says the paramilitary has plans “to assassinate indigenous leaders for going against illegal agribusinesses such as coca, mining, the preamble to the business operations of two multinationals.”

That article also suggests that Colombian military forces have been aware of the presence of the AGC paramilitary in the area.

The CIPJ has stated that cattle ranchers and palm oil and banana growers have counted on the support of the AGC to intimidate, threaten and kill community leaders who are defending their land from agribusiness and commercial logging interests.

A land defender in the region has further noted: “It doesn’t seem like the military sees campesinos as worthy of their protection even though they used to protect the palm growers when they needed it.”

Following the kidnapping of Bailarín, PBI-Colombia has further expressed with deep concern that: “Multiple alerts to threats against indigenous leaders in the area have not resulted in greater protection.”

PBI-Canada continues to follow this situation.

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