Guambiano - Sociopolitical Organization

Political Organization. In Guambia, politics is by tradition a male arena. It is considered to be an activity performed by the "upper part of the body" and a "matter for the head." Women, although indispensable for productive processes, are thought of as "having a very small head" and unsuited for political and intellectual roles in community life. The native town council ( cabildo ) is the basic institution that structures Guambiano political life and articulates the norms that constitute a true community. Members of the cabildo include the governor, mayors, constables, and secretaries. The Guambiano think of the council as a body, with the governor as its "head," or superior part, from whom one expects that "he think correctly" and "find a way out." The cabildo's functions are varied, but the supervision, care, and use of the territory are its basic concerns and responsibilities. In addition, the cabildo enforces the moral code and public order and has the power to impose fines or sanctions on persons who fail to fulfill their domestic obligations. Community activities of collective interest must also be organized and supervised by the cabildo. In former times, punishment was meted out by locking culprits into stocks or by subjecting them to lashing with a whip. Although these practices have disappeared, some Guambiano believe that at least the stocks should be brought back to guarantee the proper functioning of the community. Since the 1970s there has been evidence of a renewed strengthening of the cabildo. This development has run parallel to intensified social struggles so characteristic of the recent history of indigenous communities of southwestern Colombia; the cabildo once more serves as the key institution to coordinate political action vis-à-vis new realities. Today the Guambiano speak of a "new cabildo" that is strong and able to lead the community in its struggle for recovery and efficient exploitation of lands and, above all, one that is finally capable of enhancing the chances of the community's survival.

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: