Colombia: Sierra Nevada Indigenous leader murdered
|Yoryanis Isabel Bernal Varela was shot dead in the head
© El Heraldo
Another indigenous leader has been shot dead
Yoryanis Isabel Bernal Varela, 43, was a leader of the Wiwa tribe and a campaigner for both indigenous and women’s rights.
The Wiwa are one of four tribes that live on the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, a unique pyramid-shaped mountain in northern Colombia. The Sierra Nevada Indians believe it is their responsibility to maintain the balance of the universe.
Bernal Varela is the latest victim in a long line of attacks against Sierra Nevada leaders, who have been at the forefront of the indigenous movement in South America. Many Indians have been killed by drug gangs, left-wing guerrillas and the army.
In November 2012 Rogelio Mejía, the leader of one of the other Sierra Nevada tribes, the Arhuaco, narrowly escaped an assassination attempt.
José Gregorio Rodríguez, secretary of the Wiwa Golkuche organization, stated: “Indigenous people are being threatened and intimidated. Today they murdered our comrade and violated our rights. Our other leaders must be protected.”
The problem is not limited to Colombia. Indigenous activists throughout Latin America are being murdered for campaigning against the theft of their lands and resources. The murderers are seldom brought to justice.
On January 7, 2017, in the El Hatillo – La Loma road, rural area of the town of La Loma, belonging to the municipality of Paso; Was murdered Aldemar Parra Garcia, approximately 30 years old, father of 3 children: a newborn and two other minors; President of the Beekeeping Association of Cesar – ASOGRACE.
Aldemar, nephew of the current president of the Communal Action Board of the village, on whom a death threat weighs, was a social leader in El Hatillo.
President of the newly created beekeeping association aimed at implementing productive projects for El Hatillo families in their involuntary resettlement process.The Hatillo Coal Mine
His work as president was directed to the strengthening and growth of the association, always standing out for its technical know-how.
On January 7, after having been fishing on the Calenturitas River in the morning, in the afternoon, around 3:00 p.m., he left for La Loma when on the road two men appeared with helmets on a red motorcycle of brand Discover and without plates.
They reached him at the point they call Mata e’Zorra, entering La Loma and shot him three times in the back, where he died instantly.
The authors immediately fled in the direction of El Hatillo, continuing on the way to Casacará. The robbery is ruled out as the motive for the murder, since all the belongings were left intact at the scene of the murder.
It is known that this bike was transiting back and forth from La Loma to El Hatillo throughout the day of the incident.
Similarly, some representatives of the community have reported that the same motorcycle has been passing through the town center of the village of El Hatillo, mainly by the roads where are located the homes of several leaders, currently threatened for their work of defending rights, they are:
Almeys Mejía Rojas, Alfonso Antonio Martínez, Marina Martínez, Yolima Parra and Diana Fonseca….