“If this is happening to me, what’s happening to everyone else?”
Luis is a 40-year-old Indigenous man. He is the Indigenous governor and regional leader for Cauca. He carries his staff of office with him, a symbol of the Indigenous Guard. He is nationally and internationally recognised for his work as a defender of Indigenous peoples’ rights. In addition to his activism away from his homeland, he is the leader of his reservation, which he represents before the Indigenous committee of Cauca. Luis has organised several social movements centred on respecting their territory and has denounced the forced conscription of Indigenous children. Luis and the national Indigenous organisation with whom he works have been threatened multiple times via phone calls and text messages, which accuse them of being guerrillas and order them to stop lodging complaints.
Luis was also criminalized during his ongoing struggle to get the state to recognize that Indigenous peoples should be the ones to look after their land and jurisdiction. After years of legal battles, he was acquitted. He feels that his life is in danger but believes that the Indigenous Guard should protect him, which is why he has not requested protection measures from the state.