In Colombia, both Indigenous Peoples and traditional black, Raizal and Palenquero communities are recognised as ethnically, historically and culturally differentiated groups, with human and territorial rights of a collective nature. According to the 2018 Census, the Colombian Indigenous population numbers some 1,905,617 individuals who, in turn, belong to 115 different native peoples. Approximately 58.3% of this population lives in 717 collectively-owned resguardos (reserves).
The same census counted 4,671,160 people (9.34% of the national total) who self-identify as black, Afro-Colombian, Raizal or Palenquero. Around 7.3% of this population lives in 178 collectively-owned territories, organised around Community Councils.
Demonstration of Indigenous Peoples in Colombia. Photo: Archivo Semana.
The Peace Agreement signed in 2016 between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) raised hopes among the Indigenous Peoples, Afro-descendant populations and peasant communities that they might henceforward be able to live in peace on their territories. However, Iván Duque’s new government has not fulfilled its side of the agreement and, far from incorporating areas abandoned by the guerrilla into the institutional life of the country, the end result is that these areas have been left to their own devices. Paramilitary groups are now free to compete for control of the territory and to murder social leaders as a way of subjugating rural populations. In addition to anti-personnel mines and forced confinements, massacres became an added mechanism for exerting this pressure in 2020.
The indigenous population of Colombia, according to official data, is 1,500,000 persons, which represents 3.43% of the national population. 78.6% of the country´s indigenous population is concentrated in rural zones and 21.4% in urban zones. Out of the total indigenous population registered in Colombia in the year 2005, 796,916 inhabited reserves (57.2 % of the indigenous population). Growth in the indigenous population in recent years is notable, since in the year 1993 the indigenous population represented a mere 1.6% of the national total.