Indigenous Leader Killed in Colombia, Civil War Continues

Colombia’s civil war has been dragging on for decades, imperiling the population and pitting armed insurgents, paramilitary groups (such as the Farc) and the government’s military against one another in rural areas. This past Sunday, a traditional healer,  Lisandro Tenorio, part of the Nasa tribe of southwestern Colombia, was shot dead by an unknown gunman. His wife told BBC news that two men entered their home on Sunday night. One man shook the healer’s hand and another unidentified man proceeded to shoot him in the head three times.

As many as 250,000 people have been killed in the violence engulfing Colombia, and millions more have been displaced. Indigenous groups face disastrous and morbid forecasts for their survival. Last month the Nasa tribe attempted to oust both the government military forces and the paramilitary Farc forces by putting three guerilla soldiers from the tribe on trial. The three guerilla men were sentenced to a public lashing. At least one man was shot last month in the unrest that engulfed the region.

The southwestern corner of Colombia has remained a hub of military and paramilitary activity in recent years because of its position next to the ocean, where shipments can enter and leave with relative ease from the mainland. The Nasa tribe has been at the center of the conflict and have tired of their position in the middle of multiple armed groups. The healer Tenorio had reportedly been threatened multiple times by Farc leaders before his murder.

The same day that Tenorio was shot dead, indigenous leaders were gathering in La Maria in the Cauca province to discuss the military pull-out and options for increased peace. Current president Juan Manuel Santos has suggested that meetings be held with indigenous groups, but little has been done to affect change in the area and violence continues on a daily basis.

ColorLines points out that many indigenous groups in Colombia are faced with morbid predictions for their survival because of the civil war, and indigenous women are often the ones attempting to change the dynamics of these disagreements:

According to government officials, a third of Colombia’s 102 indigenous groups may disappear entirely because of the armed conflict, so the need for survival becomes the motivating factor for these women to act. As they do so, they face humiliation, jail time, and death threats. Their own sons grow up with the sense that they must avenge their fathers’ death, elucidating the generational—and unsettling—cycle of violence that grips Colombia.

The United States has been highly involved with Colombian politics and funding for several decades now. PBS News notes that Colombia received at least $35 million from the Bush administration to attempt to curb the sale of narcotics under such groups as Farc. The initiatives which have been funded by US leaders haVE not done much to ensure the safety of indigenous groups but have only added to an escalation of fighting and discourse in the area. Lisandro Tenorio’s death is another tragedy in a war that remains relatively hidden from US viewers’ eyes.


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Photo: pablodf/flickr

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Lynn C.
Lynn C.3 years ago

Thanks Robert for your input. Like much of what happens around the huge amounts of money generated by ANY resource in a third world country, the behind-the-scenes machinations are obscure (by nature) and, as always, it's appropriate to quote the old adage "follow the money trail". This country has much blood on it's hands, and directly or indirectly this mans death can be attributed to us. Some of the really good investigative reporters, for instance Jeremy Scahill, have done a wonderful job of putting it together. It's just too bad we can't seem to do anything about it, and another human being - of much worth - is dead.

A N M.
Anne m.3 years ago

Why doesn't the US get its nose out of Colombia altogether?

Troy G.
Troy Grant3 years ago

Like Stalinists before them, Capitalists and other conservative extremists inexorably turn to violence.

Warren Osborn
Warren Osborn3 years ago

Thanx for the article

Robert M.
Robert McBryde3 years ago

FARC is NOT a paramilitary group. The paramilitaries, in collusion with the armed forces and often the Colombian government, are responsible for the vast majority of human rights abuses in Colombia, although the FARC, a guerilla group, also commits egregious crimes.Indigenous people in Colombia are mainly victims of paramilitary violence as these death squads act at the behest of mining, landowner and hydrocarbon interests.
Please be careful of your information.

Terrence N.
Terrence N.3 years ago

Mary G

What part of this article is erroneous? And on what facts do you base your opinion that the author is somehow dishonest?

John Mansky
John Mansky3 years ago

Thank you for the article...

Mary G.
Mary G.3 years ago

Please do not take anything this writer says for fact. She has an agenda and doesn't check facts

Robert O.
Robert O.3 years ago

Just horrible. I feel bad for the people of Colombia (particularly the indigenous people)that live under such a cloud of turmoil and fear.

Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers3 years ago

Thanks for sharing.