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Guardia Indigéna de Cauca

Indigenous Collective
Front Line Defenders Americas Regional Award

The Indigenous Guard of Cauca, member of the ACIN organisation, is a community protection network made up of women, men and children who defend their territories without weapons. It originated in Colombia’s violent south-western Cauca region, and in 2001 it began to operate as an organized collective. Most Indigenous Guards from Cauca are from the Nasa Indigenous group — the biggest, most organized of the groups — who have trained other communities throughout Colombia over the years to defend their own territories. Their main purpose is to protect their ancestral lands from armed groups, who want to take control of it.

HRDs in Colombia work in a violent and unsafe environment. They are subjected to threats, intimidation, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, physical assaults, torture, killings, illegal searches of their homes and offices and stigmatisation as a result of their activities in defence of human rights. The perpetrators of these abuses are frequently paramilitary groups, many of whom have links to the government or security services, or armed opposition groups.