By John Catalinotto
Published Oct 16, 2009 11:19 PM
From Alaska to southern Chile, Indigenous people all over the Western Hemisphere demonstrated in protest on Oct. 12—the anniversary of the day Christopher Columbus’ ships landed on a Caribbean island and began to introduce all the evils of European early capitalist colonial society to this half of the world.
In Colombia, more than 25,000 members of Indigenous communities went into the streets to protest against the injury to their rights and to demand respect for the cultural traditions of their peoples. The demonstrations, which were to continue until the next weekend, called for the “freeing of Mother Earth” from capitalist plundering and an end to the war in Colombia. A dialog has begun between Indigenous peoples and guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to avoid having the Indigenous people caught between the lines in the war.
Indigenous peoples by the thousands took to the streets in many other countries of the continent. More than 7,500 Mapuche demonstrated in Santiago, Chile. While official ceremonies will take place next year for the 200th anniversary of Chile’s independence from Spain, the Mapuche say, “200 years of repression—we have nothing to celebrate.”
On Alcatraz Island near San Francisco people gathered to commemorate 517 years of Indigenous Peoples’ resistance to the colonization of the Americas as well as the 40th anniversary of the takeover of Alcatraz by American Indian activists from California and across Turtle Island—a Native name for North America. The protesters honored those who lost their lives in the struggle to protect sacred places and Mother Earth, defend human rights, and achieve justice for Leonard Peltier and all human rights defenders.
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