from the conservative party who usurped the name “social movement of black communities” for his campaign, confusing public opinion, and who declared thereafter that the time of grassroots organizing was over. The second seat went to a representative of the Chocó organizations who had participated in the regulation of Ley 70, and who was elected with the support of sectors from the indigenous, socialist, and women's movements and from some government institutions. Although this candidate had participated actively in the ethno-territorial organizations, she progressively
shifted her position from the ethnic approach to placing emphasis on the country's marginalized peoples as a whole; she remains active in this regard, although is no longer a member of Congress. Conveniently, the government began to question the PCN’s representation and legitimacy by arguing that there were other organized sectors of the black community. With the passage of time, black congress members conformed to conventional politics, with an emphasis on getting public jobs for their constituencies, bureaucratic representation, the creation of institutional spaces, and the use of public funds to insure reelection and political survival. This affected the meaning of the demands raised by the black communities and limited the role of ethno-territorial organizations in negotiations with the State on vital matters such as territory and natural resources. Nevertheless, the ethno-territorial organizations remained an important interlocutor at many levels. Its reading of the Pacific as the most significant black region and as a strategic ethnic and ecological unit can be seen as one of its most pertinent accomplishments. In a similar vein, it was the ethno-territorial sector of the movement that trained the majority of activists capable of carrying out a critical dialogue with the State, and of endowing some river communities with a toolkit for the defense of their rights within the framework of Ley 70 and Ley 121 of 1991 (this latter ratified agreement 169 of the International Labor Organization concerning indigenous and tribal communities). These accomplishments became key ingredients of the political practice of a many grassroots organizations. 148 This structure worked relatively well until 2000, when some of the palenques started to fall apart as a result of the armed conflict. The palenque in Tumaco, for instance, was decimated by paramilitary action, causing most members to leave the region. By 2006, the Palenque el Congal from Buenaventura remained quite active, and there were attempts to reconstitute some of the other organizations in the southern Pacific hurt by displacement. 149 Conversation with Julia Cogollo, of the Palenque el Congal (Buenaventura) at the Cali PCN
Office, June 2002.
- Fall '13