Bienvenido Arroyo

Bienvenido Arroyo was born in 1942 in a village near Simonorwa, and was schooled in Nabusimake, the capital of Arhuaco Territory, Colombia.  In his youth, his leadership qualities were formed through service to the Mamos and Arhuaco leaders.   In 1976 he began working for indigenous rights on a national level. In 1982 he helped in the creation of  ONIC (National Organization of  Indigenous pueblos of Colombia) and served as treasurer until 1986 when he was named vice president of ONIC.  Later on in 1986 he resigned his position when he was appointed Governor of the Arhuaco nation. During his service as Governor (1986-2000) he traveled extensively developing a deep understanding of the problems facing his people and maintained direct contact with a wide segment of the population including all of the different actors in the armed conflict that deeply affected the population of the SNSM (Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta).  He always worked under the orientation of the Mamos, most notably the late grand Mamo Zarey Makú (highest traditional authority of the Arhuaco pueblo) working for the unification of the 4 pueblos, the acquisition of lost territories and for recognition by the Colombian government of “The Black Line” (the ancestral territorial boundary of the four pueblos of the SNSM).

Bienvenido continues his service to his people. His council is sought out by Arhuaco, Kogui, Wiwa and Kankuamo leaders in matters of justice and political processes affecting the cultural survival of the four pueblos of the SNSM.  To this day he is known as the highest traditional Cabildo of the Arhuaco nation.

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