Colombia: Protect Indigenous leaders

Staff, Amnesty International, 16/04/15

An Indigenous leader who was monitoring artisanal mining was killed in the Cañamomo Lomaprieta Indigenous Reservation in central Colombia. Many other Indigenous leaders from the Reservation have been threatened and their safety remains at risk.

On 7 April, Indigenous leader Fernando Salazar Calvo was shot dead by an unidentified gunman in the Cañamomo Lomaprieta Indigenous Reservation (Resguardo Indígena), Caldas Department. He was the president of the Association of Miners of La Unión. He also served as a board member of the Association of Artisanal Miners of the Cañamomo Lomaprieta Indigenous Reservation (Asociación de Mineros Artesanales del Resguardo Indigena Cañamomo Lomaprieta, ASOMICARS) in Ríosucio and Supía Municipalities, Caldas Department.

Fernando Salazar Calvo and many other Indigenous leaders, including Carlos Eduardo Gómez Restrepo, the Indigenous governor of Cañamomo Lomaprieta, and Fabio Moreno Herrera, the president of ASOMICARS, have repeatedly been threatened. In November 2014 the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman had issued a risk report warning that there were concerns for the safety of the Cañamomo Lomoprieta Indigenous community.

Fernando Salazar Calvo and other Indigenous leaders had been monitoring artisanal mining activities in the Indigenous Reservation. They had been closing down such activities when these were deemed not to be in line with the ancestral practice and the recommendations and resolutions of the Indigenous Cabildo. The Cabildo is the highest Indigenous political authority within their territory. Multinational extractive industries have been seeking to develop mining operations in the area and illegal armed actors have also expressed an interest in developing mining operations in the area. There have been reports of the presence of paramilitaries and guerrillas in the area.


Please send a fax or letter to the president.

  • Start with Dear President Santos and a sentence about yourself, such as from where you are writing, to make your message unique.
  • Express concern for the safety of Carlos Eduardo Gómez Restrepo, Fabio Moreno Herrera, and other Indigenous leaders in the Cañamomo Lomaprieta Indigenous Reservation, and urge him to guarantee their safety in strict accordance with their wishes.
  • Ask him to order a full and impartial investigation into the killing of Fernando Salazar Calvo and into the threats against other Indigenous leaders of the Cañamomo Lomaprieta Indigenous Reservation.

If you wish, you could also urge his government to respect and support the Indigenous peoples of the Cañamomo Lomaprieta Indigenous Reservation in their efforts to pursue their own initiatives for resource extraction, as part of their right to self-determination. They must be able to set their own strategies for development, in line with recommendations by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.


Send your fax or letter to

Juan Manuel Santos
Presidente de la República
Palacio de Nariño, Carrera 8 No.7-26
Bogotá, Colombia

Postage: $2.50
Fax:   011 57 1 596 0631


Please send a copy to one or more of the following:

His Excellency Nicolás Lloreda Ricaurte
Ambassador for Colombia
360 Albert Street, Suite 1002
Ottawa, Ontario K1R 7X7

Postage: $.85
Fax:   (613) 230-4416
E-mail:  embajada@embajadacolombia.ca


Honourable Robert Nicholson
Minister of Foreign Affairs
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Postage: None required
Fax:  (613) 992-7910
Email:  rob.nicholson@parl.gc.ca

Resguardo Indígena Cañamomo Lomaprieta
Calle 11 No 11-04, Avenida Las Américas
Caldas, Colombia

Postage: $2.50


Additional information

Over the past 50 years, the internal armed conflict has pitted the security forces and paramilitaries against a range of guerrilla groups. In spite of the ongoing peace process all the warring parties con-tinue to be responsible for serious crimes under international law and other human rights violations. Indigenous communities are among those most affected by the conflict. According to the National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (Organización Nacional Indígena de Colombia, ONIC), 10 Indigenous people were killed for conflict-related reasons and at least 2,819 forcibly displaced in the first nine months of 2014.

The Cañamomo Lomaprieta Indigenous Reservation (Resguardo Indígena), located in the municipalities of Ríosucio and Supía in Caldas Department, was established in the 1700s at the time of Spanish colonialism. Embera Chami Indigenous people have been living in the area for centuries. The Indigenous Cabildo of Cañamomo Lomaprieta has been regulating mining in their territory, for example by prohibiting the use of substances which would be harmful to the environment or the access or investment by people who are not part of their community.