"Peasants But Not Only: Indigenous Struggles for Autonomy in the Colombian Peasant Movement of the 1970s"

Godoy, Josue, History - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Klubock, Thomas, AS-History (HIST), University of Virginia
Owensby, Brian, AS-History (HIST), University of Virginia

In 1991, a new Colombian constitution was drafted with the active participation of marginalized social and ethnic groups. These marginalized sectors were able to place in the Constitution an article mandating the Colombian state’s recognition of cultural and ethnic diversity within the territory as well as the recognition of Indigenous autonomy in ancestral homelands. One of the most prominent organizations for Indigenous activism, in the 1990s and today, is the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca (CRIC), founded in 1971 during a time of national peasant mobilization led by the National Association of Peasant Users (ANUC). This essay seeks to investigate the formal split between the peasant movement led by ANUC and the Indigenous movement led by CRIC, which occurred in 1977. By analyzing key CRIC and ANUC documents as well as the 1970s Indigenous periodical, Unidad Indígena, published by the CRIC, this essay argues that, from the perspective of the CRIC, the split occurred because of ANUC leadership’s lack of recognition of Indigenous cultural struggles. These cultural struggles revolved around defending Indigenous peoples’ relationship with the Land, including the knowledge systems developed with the Land. The point of this essay is to emphasize Indigenous agency in the emergence of these cultural struggles. Whereas some literature may put the focus on the incredibly important non-Indigenous collaborators and international context, this essay centers CRIC documents alongside Unidad Indígena as the central sources and by doing so, it hopes to bring to the fore the lessons taught by Indigenous struggles for autonomy in 1970s Colombia.

MA (Master of Arts)
Indigenous Activism, Cauca, Colombia, Peasant Movements, Decolonial Movements
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