Things That Matter

Five Tribal Leaders Have Been Assassinated Across Colombia And The Government Blames FARC Rebels

President Iván Duque traveled to Colombia’s southwest in the wake of what he called the “assassination” of five indigenous leaders. According to the Associated Press, leaders of the Tacueyo reservation were killed this week when they were ambushed by gunmen that belong to a faction of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (also known as FARC). 

The leaders’ armored SUV was attacked by a small group of defectors with hand grenades and guns who do not support the now-defunct FARC’s peace treaty with the government. The gunmen continued to shoot even as ambulances arrived to help the wounded. Duque condemned the act of violence that injured six and killed five, including Cristina Bautista, the spiritual leader of the semi-autonomous reservation and the top authority. 

The Nasa indigenous guard try to thwart the assassination.

The Nasa indigenous group resides in the Cauca province of southwest Colombia. When the Nasa indigenous guard attempted to stop a car for a routine check, a group of dissidents including a leader demanded to pass through. After a standoff, the guard alarmed other locals to gather. The rebels opened fire and used hand grenades to attack the indigenous leaders. 

The Nasa are semi-autonomous and administer, patrol, and govern their own region. The guard consists of volunteers and does not consider themselves a police force, according to BBC. They are unarmed mediators who carry wooden staffs. 

Indigenous leaders believe Duque’s visit is too little, too late.

Since Colombia’s 2016 peace accord, dozens of indigenous and social leaders have been assassinated. Militant dissidents have used violent methods to take control over former rebel territories and drug routes. 

In the Cauca state, one of the country’s most lucrative and fast-growing regions for cocaine production, 14 tribal members have been killed. 

“Our only weapon is our unity and spirituality,” Luis Acosta, national coordinator of the indigenous guards, told Associated Press. “[The dissidents] don’t allow us to control our territories because we reject the logic of war.”

Colombian indigenous communities have consistently decried the government’s complacency in what they say is a “genocide” where they have become collateral damage in ongoing conflicts between leftist rebels, state security forces, and right-wing paramilitaries. 

Colombia’s government launches a military offensive to detain the dissidents.

The government launched an initial investigation that suggested the act was in retaliation to the capture of three Farc defectors by indigenous locals. 

“Clearly, here we have a longstanding threat of drug trafficking groups, and of dissidents, who want to intimidate the population,” Duque told reporters, according to The Guardian.  “I hope to make some important announcements about operational capacity in the region and the capacity we will have to face these threats.” 

However, many felt Duque was just paying lip service. 

“The region where this massacre took place is a first-tier zone for violence, and the defense sector surely knows this but the response to repeated calls for help from indigenous communities has been far from adequate,” Adam Isacson, a security analyst at the Washington Office on Latin America, told reporters.

Opposition politicians accuse the government of genocide.

“What is underway in Colombia is an indigenous genocide, and it will not stop if international justice does not appear,” Senator Gustavo Petro tweeted. 

While the 2016 peace accord was meant to end a civil war that displaced 7 million Colombians and killed 260,000, violence has become the status quo for the Cauca province. A residual power vacuum leftover by Farc appears to have causedconflicts over territory, drug routes, land rights, and resources where indigenous people are often targets.

 Just last month, Karina García a mayoral candidate and three others on the campaign were murdered. Since 2016, according to Colombia’s human rights ombudsman, 486 activists and human rights defenders have been murdered. 

“The government says the right things, but doesn’t do anything,” said Eduin Marcelo Capaz, an indigenous human rights coordinator said. “Duque will say whatever he has to to cover up his government’s ineffectiveness and disinterest in protecting us.”

United Nations and the Organization of American States urge Colombia’s government to end violence against indigenous groups.  

Last April, the UN and OAS urged Duque to avoid violence in the Cauca province as tensions escalated between indigenous folk and dissidents. 

“Dialogue is fundamental to attend to social demands and is the only solution that contains violence, alongside a focus on human rights, the strengthening of democracies and the rule of law,” the office of the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights urged. 

Only time will tell if Colombia’s promise to protect its indigenous folk is real because so far it hasn’t been. 

“People are being left unprotected by their government in an area that is being disputed among several armed and criminal groups,” Isacson said. “Colombia must prioritize protecting these communities, working with their leaderships, to prevent another horrible tragedy.”

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This Oaxacan Artist Is Turning Sneakers Into Her Canvas For Día De Muertos And The Results Are Incredible

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This Oaxacan Artist Is Turning Sneakers Into Her Canvas For Día De Muertos And The Results Are Incredible

dorisarellano_pintora / Instagram

As the Coronavirus pandemic has brought to a halt economies and countries around the world, it’s also helped shutter the businesses of artists who rely on galleries and street markets to sell their creations.

Mexico is one of the world’s hardest hit countries and artists in the country have had to get creative to find new clients and customers amid a global pandemic.

However, with the rising popularity of bespoke sneaker collections, one Oaxacan artist seems to have found the winning formula.

A Oaxacan artist has made sneakers her canvas and she’s highlighting her culture in this new medium.

Credit: dorisarellano_pintora / Instagram

Mexico has been one of the world’s hardest hit countries by the Covid-19 pandemic. Coronavirus-related restrictions have indefinitely closed millions of businesses across the country as tourists stopped coming to the country.

As these restrictions have impacted the livelihoods of millions of Mexicans, many have been forced to get creative. For one artist from Oaxaca, Doris Arellano Manzo, the choice was clear: a canvas is a canvas — it could be stretched over a wooden frame or stretched over a pair of athletic shoes.

Like other artists worldwide who are succeeding at beating the pandemic’s economic challenges to their careers, Arellano is learning to adapt — to be less conventional and to think quite literally a bit smaller: she now paints her art on sneakers.

Thanks to the pandemic, Arellano felt she needed to reinvent herself and her craft.

It all started in July when Arellano and her daughter Frida – a communications and social media professional, realized that Arellano needed to think outside the traditional. It was obvious that museums and galleries would likely remain closed for sometime, so how else could they bring her art to her clients?

“Since I love to paint, I can paint for you on a large canvas just as well as I can on a small one,” she recently told the newspaper Milenio. “As far as I’m concerned, while you have me here with my paints and paintbrushes, I’m thrilled.”

Each pair of shoes is unique, she said, “because it’s all done by hand, not by machine.” She describes her style as “traditionalist contemporary,” and says she is drawn to evoking the rites and customs of Oaxacan traditional culture.

Her Día de Muertos collection is garnering international attention.

Credit: dorisarellano_pintora / Instagram

Arellano’s latest collection features shoes with colorful abstract designs in bright cempasúchil orange, with lush floral wreaths and, of course, featuring the iconic Día de Muertos Catrina.

The collection was timed perfectly since so many are looking for non-traditional art amidst a very non-traditional year.

Her latest collection of work, all painted on athletic footwear, is entitled after the celebration she’s commemorating, Día de Muertos.

She says her collections are an homage to traditional Oaxacan festivities that couldn’t take place in 2020.

Credit: dorisarellano_pintora / Instagram

In addition to her recently released Día de Muertos collection which has been very popular, Arellano has created art with other Oaxacan themes.

In fact, when she first began her art-themed sneaker collection in July, at Friday’s suggestion, her sneaker art was based on the enormous festival of Guelaguetza. The Guelaguetza is a traditional Oaxaca cultural festival that had to be canceled this year due to the pandemic.

In some ways, she said, the enforced isolation of the pandemic has been a huge challenge for artists like herself, but in other ways, it’s actually been familiar.

“The work of an artist is a bit enclosed,” she admitted. “We go out when there are exhibits, when we have to go introduce ourselves in public or do interviews.”

Still, she said, the pandemic caught the art community flatfooted.

“Artists don’t have a way to show their work during the pandemic,” she said. “It’s all been halted, and we have to go back and look for new formats for the public to see what we are doing.”

It seems like 2020 has been the year of handcrafted sneaker lines.

Although Arellano is working hard to infuse her own culture into her art and her new sneaker line, she isn’t the first to do so. Just this year Nike released its take on the traditional holiday with a Día de Muertos-themed sneaker collection that had fans of both the holiday and the sneaker company excited for.

Then we got news that Bad Bunny was releasing a custom Crocs line – which flew off the shelves and are now selling for more than four times the original retail price. Plus, recent rumors say that Bad Bunny will also be launching an Adidas collaboration at some point in early 2021.

People have long been obsessed with bespoke sneaker collections, but thanks to the pandemic people are looking for new ways to support artists and satisfy their shopping cravings. We can’t think of a better way than by supporting local Indigenous artists like Arellano.

You can get more information here.

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A 13-Year-Old Boy Was Shot Point-Blank, Unprovoked In His Front Yard; His Family Demands Answers From Police

Things That Matter

A 13-Year-Old Boy Was Shot Point-Blank, Unprovoked In His Front Yard; His Family Demands Answers From Police

Brayan Zavala/Photo: GOFUNDME

A family in Riverdale of Clayton County, Georgia is expressing frustration at the lack of progress the police have made in finding the killer of 13-year-old son Brayan Zavala. “We want justice,” said Brayan’s 16-year-old brother, Jesus. “We want to find whoever killed my brother so he can go to jail and pay for what he did.”

According to the deceased boy’s family, last Thursday, Brayan had been working on the front lawn with his brother and father when a masked gunman approached the property. The gunman didn’t answer when Brayan’s father asked him what he wanted. Instead, unprovoked, the stranger took out his shotgun and shot Brayan at point-blank range in the face. Stunned, the family tried to fight for Brayan’s life as the gunman fled the scene.

“The shooter didn’t even say I want your money, or this is a robbery or I’m assaulting you. He just came, stood there (in) silence and shot my brother.” his 16-year-old brother, Jesus, explained to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “We tried to stop all the blood but by the time the police got here, it didn’t seem like he had life or a chance to live.”

The children of Mexican immigrants, the death is especially tragic. “We decided to live here for a better life, turns out it is worse,” Jesus told local news station Fox 5. “This is just like Mexico. They kill because they wanna kill. That is what just happens.”

According to Jesus, Brayan was a A-student on the honor roll, always trying to stay out of trouble. “Me, my brother, my sister, we study and then do our chores, and study. We’re just focused on doing the things, you know, productivity. And going somewhere,” said Jesus told local news station Fox 5.

“He was a cheerful kid. Always smiling, joking. Like I said, always avoiding problems instead of causing problems. I don’t know why this happened to him.”

The senseless killing has shaken the community who don’t understand what would provoke an inexplicable murder of a child. Law enforcement, as well, can’t make sense of it.

“As a Clayton County police officer for over 38 years very little shocks me. But, this brutal, senseless murder has overwhelmed me,” a Clayton County Police officer named Doug Jewett wrote to the AJC. “I send my prayers to the family.”

As of now, the family is trying to pick up the pieces of their life, setting up a GoFundMe page to finance Brayan’s funeral costs. The Clayton County police department has asked anyone with information to call (770) 477-4479. As of now, no suspects have been reported or arrested, and the family is calling for justice.

“It’s been a week now since my brother died and I haven’t heard anything, no answers from police,” Jesus told Atlanta 11 Alive news. “It makes me feel really frustrated that they don’t think it’s a big deal. I mean, they killed my little brother.”

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