4.1.1 Case Study (Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca)

The Nasa people are located in the Cauca region in Colombia. [30] They consider the practice of their life plan as a right. The concepts of unity, culture and autonomy are articulated in the plan for the benefit of the members of the Nasa people and their environment.

“We have clarified that we also have a political choice in this world, that we also think, that we also have a philosophy […] This right is so real that, even though they have not wanted to accept it, they have not been able to ignore it either. Our territory, our resources and the possibility of managing our own development according to our way of thinking, and not according to the values of a system that they want to impose on us, are a fundamental part of the rights for which we keep fighting31.”

Keeping this in mind and very present in their life plan, the Nasa, with the aid of the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca, started to write down its life plan at a time when the government also started to demand development plans for the region. When making their life plan, the Nasa kept in mind the perspective of women on how the plan should be created in order for it to be inclusive and harmonious. They used the analogy of knitting:

  • “The beautiful and harmonious unity of the many stitches integrating the final product of the knitting.”
  • The balanced encounter among colours, figures and different stitches as a whole.
  • The result: the knitting as the product of different proposals, objectives and ways of working and methodologies. Different, yet oriented towards the same goal.
  • Knitting with different ends and uses according to particular communitarian needs.

All the areas that must be assessed were pointed out inside this plan, among which were education, language and communication:

  • That the language recovers itself in all its spheres: comprehension, speaking, writing. It must be promoted at a local and a regional level and used in the communication and expression of media, in which young as well as elder people participate.
  • To confirm the educational project corresponding to the Indigenous cabildos32 of Cauca. To unify an education proposal that allows projecting and coordinating activities among the different councils and their educational institutions.
  • To create our own communication strategies, taking advantage of the technology and the professional capacities of some Indigenous people. Some communication means have been implemented that respond to our language, uses and customs. The Indigenous radio, websites, newspapers, magazines and audiovisual materials are particular cases. The objective is to find exposure through means of communication controlled by indigenous peoples.

In order to address such issues, one of the actions taken by the Nasa people was to create the Communication Program of the Regional Indigenous Council of Cauca, which pointed out the following principles for the media that will belong to this program:

  • Informing: To have the capacity to focus the attention of the community on the activities that the national, regional and local organisations and the different social sectors perform on matters of social interest in which they are involved, contributing with elements for analysis which promote and facilitate people’s comprehension of their reality and create a public opinion.
  • Educating: To develop a direct and bilateral communication, optimizing the broadcasting and reception capacity of the indigenous peoples in Cauca. We want to enable the knowledge and analysis of the reasons which lead to the existence of this social reality, to create conciliation spaces, to facilitate bringing out and putting in common different points of view.
  • Mobilizing: To create awareness about the social reality of Indigenous peoples of Cauca, having an effect that makes Indigenous people and social actors move towards the execution of ideas, proposals and projects for achieving a peaceful coexistence, to recover trust and strength culturally, socially, politically and organizationally.

This is the story about the way in which the Nasa inhabitants designed their communication project. The objectives and the role that the media plays in the community are well traced, the corresponding ideas are clear, and there is a commitment from all of the members of the community to undertake them. We could say that the Nasa successfully covered the first stage of the path.

30 All of the notes that we mention in this chapter are mainly taken from Otero, José. El derecho a la comunicación en el Plan de Vida de los Pueblos Indígenas del Cauca. Colombia. 2008.

31 Quote from a speech given by Lorenzo Muelas, taken from Otero, José. El derecho a la comunicación en el Plan de Vida de los Pueblos Indígenas del Cauca. Colombia. 2008.

32 Translator’s Note: A cabildo is the equivalent to a town hall or council.