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  • Luis Fernando Arias, spokesman for the Indigenous National Organization of Colombia, reads a statement after the signing of an agreement with the government.

    Luis Fernando Arias, spokesman for the Indigenous National Organization of Colombia, reads a statement after the signing of an agreement with the government. | Photo: ONIC/EFE

Indigenous groups have ended their strike, which in part pressured authorities to accelerate investigations into the murders of at least 30 community leaders.

Colombian Indigenous communities finally put an end to their 40-day general strike on Thursday, after reaching an agreement with the national government regarding education, land issues and human rights.

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A permanent assembly has now been established by the communities in order to monitor implementation of the agreement, Indigenous National Organization of Colombia (ONIC) spokesman Luis Fernando Arias announced in a press conference.

During his speech, Arias denounced how “accommodating” the government has been of violence committed against Indigenous peoples, “allowing apathy and neglect to be the main public policy applied.”

Indigenous communities mobilized in 17 locations across the country, despite a strong police presence that resulted in “over 40 people injured, seven people under investigation and hundreds of threats,” Arias said. He also accused police of using “non-conventional weapons” as “a mean of dissuasion” against “peaceful social protest.”

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The agreement guarantees Indigenous collective rights, implementation of the peace agreement reached with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia last year, and an agenda to meet the demands of Indigenous communities where the mobilizations took place. It was signed in Caldono, in the south-eastern province of Cauca.

The permanent assembly monitoring its implementation includes Father Francisco de Roux; U.N. Coordinator in Colombia Martin Santiago; Head of the U.N. Support Mission of Colombia's Peace Process Roberto Menendez; Senator Ivan Cepeda, and former Colombian President Ernesto Samper.


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