“If we stay quiet they kill us and if we talk [they kill us] too. So, let’s talk.” - Cristina Bautista, 2019
Cristina Bautista was a member of the Nasa Indigenous people’s community whose home is situated in the region of Northern Cauca, Colombia. She was part of their resistance as a leader, land rights defender, social worker, and governor of the Nasa Tacueyó Indigenous reserve.
A tireless defender of the rights of Nasa people, Cristina spoke strongly and loudly against the violence directed at her community. In a speech before the United Nations, she called for the protection of Indigenous women’s lives and their involvement in different spheres of life. In 2017, Cristina was a UN Human Rights Office Indigenous fellow and she was awarded a grant from the UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Peoples in 2019.
“I would like to bring to light the current situation of the Indigenous people in Colombia, the killing of Indigenous leaders, the repression of social protest. Instead of helping, the peace deal has increased war and the exploitation of sacred territories in Colombia… In the current situation, in almost all Indigenous nations as women we have been working to find a better future for our families. I don’t want more women from the countryside to continue living under these circumstances. We need opportunities for Indigenous women to participate in politics, in the economy, in society and in culture. Today gives me true strength, to see all these women here and that I am not alone.” - Cristina Bautista, 2019
On 29 October 2019, Cristina was murdered along with four unarmed Indigenous guards in an attack which was allegedly carried out by armed members of “Dagoberto Ramos”, a FARC dissident group.
According to Global Witness, “the murder of community and social leaders has risen dramatically in Colombia in recent years.”
“The Nasa community has repeatedly raised the alarm with the authorities about threats to their safety. Despite efforts by successive Colombian Governments, indigenous peoples continue to face great risks, especially religious or community leaders like Cristina Bautista.” - UN press briefing, 1 November 2019