AlertNet: Awa Tribe in Colombia in danger of disappearing

"Standing along the main highway that snakes through the southwestern province of Narino, Awa indigenous leader, Carlos Ortiz, points to the surrounding misty mountain peaks.

“We should be up there where our spiritual lands are, and not down here,” he says.

For thousands of years, Colombia’s Awa Indians, a 35,000-strong indigenous tribe of semi-nomads and hunter-gatherers, have lived in this remote green wilderness.

But over the last decade, as the Colombian military has stepped up its fight against leftist rebels in this part of the country, roughly 3,000 Awa have been driven off their jungle reserves to escape the crossfire. They have settled on the lower slopes of the Andes mountain range and in makeshift settlements on the outskirts of villages dotted along this highway.

Straddling the border with Ecuador and with a gateway to the Pacific Ocean, the location of the Awa’s tribal lands has also lured drug traffickers to this coveted strategic corridor, to smuggle cocaine and arms, placing the Awa in the middle of drug turf wars."

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Colombia Awa tribe at risk of disappearing (AlertNet 10/19)

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