Currently — March 3rd, 2023

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In honor of Women’s History Month, Currently is spotlighting the women and femmes who are—and continue to be—the backbone of the environmental and climate justice movement and pioneered the work to protect communities.

Sandra Liliana Peña Chocué was an Indigenous Authority of the Nasa people of Colombia and governor of the Indigenous reserve, “La Laguna-Siberia SAT Tama kiwe” in Cauca. In her role as governor, she fought to clear coca crops in Caldono and frequently spoke out against the increase in illicit crop cultivation, illegal mining, and other actions in the reserve that impacted the Nasa collective and territorial rights. Her work showed the integral role that women play in Indigenous resistance.

She received threats from illegal groups that sought territorial control of Cauca and reported some of these threats to authorities. But, on April 20, 2021, the Indigenous rights defender was abducted from her home and killed by four men.

Following her death, 127 Indigenous Authorities called for a “Minga Hacia Adentro” to eradicate coca crops from the territory, leading to an attack that left 31 Indigenous activists seriously wounded.

Chocué’s life was dedicated to protecting Indigenous people’s way of life and autonomy and building peace in Nasa territories.

—Aarohi Sheth

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