The struggle against climate change can be neutralized by the circumstances and conditions under which the clean energy transition is carried out. The behaviour of wind-energy companies in La Guajira, the territory of the Wayuu indigenous people, serves as an illustrative example.
Indigenous peoples in Colombia
The indigenous population in Colombia is estimated at 1,500,000 inhabitants. Along with many campesinos and Afro-Colombian, many indigenous peoples in the country continue to struggle with forced displacement and landlessness as a result of the long-term armed conflict in Colombia.
The Government of Colombia adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007. The Political Constitution of 1991 recognised the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples and ratified ILO Convention 169.
At the national level, indigenous peoples are represented by two main organizations: the "Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia" (ONIC) and "Autoridades Indígenas de Colombia" (AICO).
President Santos signed a decree in 2014 that created a special regime to put into operation the administration of indigenous peoples' own systems in their territories until Congress issues the Organic Law of Territorial Management that will define the relations and coordination between the Indigenous Territorial Entities and the Municipalities and Departments.
Indigenous peoples in Colombia
According to official data, indigenous peoples’ population in Colombia is currently estimated at 1,500,000 people, which represents the 3.4% of the national population.
According to the indigenous population register in 2005, 796,916 inhabited reserves (57.2 % of the indigenous population). On a bigger picture, figures show that 78.6% of the indigenous population is concentrated in rural zones and 21.4% in urban zones. 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.
There are 65 Amerindian languages spoken in the country. Of this 65, 5 have no capacity for revitalization and another 19 are in serious danger of disappearing.
Main challenges for Colombia’s indigenous peoples
Data from the Victims Unit show that 192,638 indigenous people and 794,703 Afro-Colombians were affected by the war experienced in recent years. The guerrilla made life impossible for several indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombians, and massacres such as that of the Awá in Nariño and Afro-Colombians in Bojayá, mined collective territories, communities stripped of their territories and young people and children recruited are some examples of the FARC's violent acts carried out against ethnic peoples.
Almost a third of the national territory is categorised as indigenous reserves, and most of them have to face serious environmental conflicts and land grabbing due to extractive activities in the zone.
According to the national census conducted in 2018,1 the Indigenous population in Colombia has grown by 36.8% and now accounts for 4.4% of the country’s total population, or 1,905,617 Indigenous individuals across all peoples.
Indigenous communities’ livelihood in Colombia is threatened as they are struggling to keep their ancestral territory. The Arhuaco peoples have organised themselves and are making a last stand to prevent more mining concessions in their territory and create sustainable development.
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.
IWGIA fully supports the press release published by the Indigenous Peoples Major Group that strongly condemns the persistent and gross human rights violations committed in Colombia and express solidarity with the indigenous peoples in the country.