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UN praises Colombia's indigenous, blasts state

The vice president of the United Nations' (U.N.) Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues called the situation facing indigenous people in Colombia "bittersweet" on Friday. He praised the nation's indigenous people for overcoming adversity, and blasted the government for allowing human rights violations to persist, following an official visit to the Andean nation, El Nuevo Siglo reports.

Spanish UN representative Bartolome Clavero said that on one hand he is optimistic about the way Colombia's indigenous communities are handling their hardships, but pessimistic about the government's handling of the issue.

"Optimistic for the indigenous people ... their consistent willpower, commitment, determination ... to stay as they are, to live not only as individuals, but also collectively, as a people with its culture, its lands, its resources, in the face of such difficulties... [But I am] pessimistic for the policies that continue to aggravate the situation of these people," Clavero explained.

According to Clavero, he is frustrated by "the way the [Colombian] government misinforms United Nation bodies, communicating progress that isn't real, considering progress made on paper as actual achievement, even though they are not implemented in real life, nor is there even the political will to put them into practice."

He also criticized "the systematic maintenance of situations that result in the human rights violations of people, communities, and indigenous communities."

The National Indigenous Organization of Colombian (ONIC) insisted that the U.N. accept an invitation from the Colombian government made in April.

If it wasn't for ONIC's insistence that it was "urgent" for the U.N. to visit Colombia to study the "grave humanitarian situation facing indigenous communities," the international body would not have come.

"We would not have accepted the invitation from a government like Colombia's" if it wasn't for "the consultation and recommendations from ONIC," Clavero explained.

~ Colombia Reports
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