Representatives from twenty-three Afro-descendent communities of the Cacarica sector in the Chocó region of the Darién announced judicial actions as part of their rejection of the construction of the Transversal de las Américas and the Travesías Bridge across the Atrato River, between Palo de Letras and Lomas Aisladas, where, according to the native inhabitants, there are no highways.
The judicial actions are related to the failure of the National Institute of Concessions (INCO) and the Transportation Ministry to undertake a prior consultation with the native inhabitants of the region about the construction project.
“We will effectuate judicial actions and ask that all activity in the development of the project be suspended, until there is an informed, free, prior consultation with the Afro-descendent, Indigenous and Mestizo communities positioned in the region, and until a study advances on the socio-environmental impact of the civil works projects,” said Jefferson Quinteo, a spokesperson for the community.
In this sentiment, the communities are also opposed to the project announced by President Juan Manuel Santos to construct a dry canal between the Caribbean and Pacific oceans, which would also stretch across the region.
“More than opposition, we want them to respect our rights as communities, attained over the years. Among them, land rights, cultural integrity, and the existence as a unified people. Moreover, this project ignores that the Los Katíos Natural National Park, declared by Unesco as a World Heritage Site, runs through the region,” said Quinteo.
He also recalled that the Vías de las Américas SAS, a concessionaire, is in charge of the construction of the Transversal de las Américas Highway. The businessman William Vélez Sierra is an important stockholder in this company. Sierra is implicated by allegations of paramilitary leaders extradited to the United States.
Text copied from www.rcnradio.com – With the original at: http://www2.rcnradio.com/noticias/1…