Friday, October 24, 2008

The Indians Are Coming!

Today we had school cancelled. I've had "snow days" and "cold weather days" be responsible for school being called off. I imagine some places even have "hurricane days" or "fire danger/drought days."

But today was a first. We had school cancelled because the indigenous peoples of the southern part of Colombia were marching on the city of Cali. I'm not even sure what to call that kind of a day!

Apparently the native Colombians in that region are upset over the lack of government funding they have been getting, including health care, as well as the encroaching corporations into their land. They began marching from near the city of Popayan (about a three hour bus ride south of Cali) and picking up more supporters along the way. They were scheduled to reach Cali sometime today or last night. Thus far I have seen no one. (They are all sporting green bandanas so please don't think I'm trying to judge people based on certain physical stereotypes!)

The latest news we were given is that they plan on marching into Cali, staying a few days and then continuing on to Bogota. Well, President Uribe obviously doesn't want the image of this many people walking halfway across the country splashed all over the international media, so he has agreed to come and meet with the leaders of the group on Sunday.

This is supposed to be a peaceful march. The reason school was cancelled was twofold; other people (members of various paramilitary groups for example) might use this demonstration to further their own cause inciting violence, and our campus is in the southern part of the city, fairly close to where the marchers will be entering.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming days. Until then, isn't it interesting how, it seems, no matter where you go in the world, the native peoples always seem to have been unjustly persecuted in some way through out their history?


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