PBI-Colombia accompanies meeting of Indigenous Embera leader Argemiro Bailarín with the Embassy of Ireland

Published by Brent Patterson on

On March 24, PBI-Colombia posted: “Thanks to Ambassador Alison Milton and team [at the Embassy of Ireland] for supporting defence of the territory of Argemiro Bailarín of Bajo Atrato, accompanied by Danilo Rueda [from the PBI-Colombia accompanied Inter-Church Commission on Justice and Peace] in the midst of armed conflict and impunity.”

Argemiro Bailarín is a member of the Indigenous Embera community of Alto Guayabal in the department of Chocó in the Bajo Atrato region.

After the meeting, the Embassy tweeted: “We continue to support the ethnic leader Argemiro Bailarín who shared with us the challenges of defending the environment and the security situation in Bajo Atrato.”

Caught in the armed conflict

PBI-Colombia notes: “The Bajo Atrato region [is again] caught in the centre of conflict: territorial control by illegal armed groups, threats to social leaders, recruitment of young people, armed combat between illegal armed groups and the confinement of indigenous peoples who face a serious humanitarian situation.”

In July 2020, El Espectador reported: “In Bajo Atrato in Chocó, according to [Human Rights Watch], the AGC [the paramilitary Gaitanista Self-Defence Forces of Colombia] and the ELN [National Liberation Army] guerrillas fight over control of the rivers ‘while thousands of indigenous and Afro-Colombian people are confined to their territories or they are obligated to displace to save their lives.’”

Territories threatened by mining

The Pulitzer Center has also reported: “Rich in natural resources, over three-quarters of the land in Chocó is covered with tropical forests. But the forests are under threat from mining-related deforestation. Chocó is also Colombia’s top gold-producing region, attracting both multinational mining corporations and local artisanal mining.”

And Mongabay has reported: “According to [Justice and Peace], cattle ranchers and palm oil and banana growers have counted on the support of the AGC paramilitary to intimidate, threaten and kill the community leaders who are defending their land from the expansion of agribusiness and commercial logging interests in the region.”

Amnesty International further notes: “Over the years, the Colombian authorities have granted licenses to mining and other companies looking to exploit [the lands that people have been displaced from] and their vast natural resources.”

“We continue to support the ethnic leader Argemiro Bailarín who shared with us the challenges of defending the environment and the security situation in Bajo Atrato.”

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