From White Wolf Pack
TORIBIO, Colombia—Indigenous people angry at being forced to live in the crossfire of the Colombia’s long-running civil conflict jeered President Juan Manuel Santos on Wednesday as he visited their war-ravaged southwestern region.
Leaders of the 115,000 Nasa people are demanding government troops and leftist rebels alike go away and leave them in peace.
But Santos told residents of Toribio, a town of 35,000, during a tense visit that he would not order the military to quit the nine towns that Nasa leaders want the military to vacate.
“Our military and police are here to protect you,” he said. “They are here and they’re going to stay.”
Less than 3 miles (5 kilometers) away on Wednesday, a group of about 50 rebels of the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, set up a road checkpoint to demonstrate similar resolve.
Nasa leaders, who have gained fame over the years for standing up to Colombia’s heavily armed groups with only wooden staffs to protect them, confronted the rebels and asked them to leave. After several hours, they did.
“We don’t want them here. Not them, not the others. War is a bad solution,” said James Yatacue, leader of the Association of North Cauca Indigenous Councils. “Militarization is no guarantee of security.”
People in the region have been victims of constant attacks, including a motorcycle bomb explosion Tuesday in the nearby town of Argelia that killed a 9-year-old boy and wounded five other children.