Catatumbo is one of those names and places that once known stays forever saved in the mind. In order to arrive at our final destination, El Tarra, we left from Cucuta, a city on the border with Venezuela, crossing the majestic countryside of the vertiginous mountains that open up through winding and rambling roads.
The general opinion of Catatumbo in independent and national news sources shows that this region, known for its immense natural richness, has been linked to social, political and armed conflict, State abandonment, fights for land and territory, violence from legal armed groups and those on the margin of the law, and national and international economic interests.
Within this context, different sectors of civil society have united for various years to peacefully demand respect for the civilian population and their rights. In light of these claims, for Catatumbo 2013 was synonymous with rural worker movements that enabled the zone to form part of the national debate and convert itself into a true reference point for Colombian rural workers.
It was in El Tarra, ´land that welcomes peace´ in the heart of Catatumbo, as its motto indicates, where various organisations united on the 5th and 6th December for the Regional Constituent of Catatumbo: “Building mandates for Peace and Territory”. This citizens´ initiative to construct popular mandates for the Catatumbo region included discussions of political participation, inter-cultural territories, the rural economy, traditional mining, Farmer Reserve Zones, amongst others. In this impressive meeting 1,500 people met (communities from the region, rural workers, victims and delegates of social and political organisations) to generate popular power from the grass roots in favour of positive social change.
One of the most vibrant moments of the event was the torchlight procession in memory of the four rural workers, martyrs of Catatumbo (Edinson Franco Jaimes, Leonel Jacome, Diomar Humberto Angarita, y Hermides Palacios), who lost their lives in June last year whilst demanding better conditions for the Colombian countryside.
The emotions were so high that it moved my soul to see thousands of candles and to hear so many voices singing the words of Ali Primera for their fallen brothers
´Those who die for life
cannot be called dead
and from this moment on
it is prohibited to cry for them
Sing comrade sing!
Let your voice be a shot
so that in the hands of the people
there will be no unarmed singing´
The event finished to the rhythm of ´carranga´, celebrating resistance in the beautiful Catatumbo.
Delphine Taylor is from a Franco-British family. Born in the United States, Delphine grew up in Belgium where she developed a strong interest for travelling, cultural diversity and human rights. This passion to explore the world seems to be in the family genes as currently three of her siblings are living in Africa, while a fourth lives in Luxembourg. Her experiences abroad and her social commitment encouraged her to choose the educational route of sociology and anthropology, in particular questions about “otherness” in Latin America. She decided to form part of the PBI team to be able to live a new experience and to get to know different realities, human rights defenders and their respective struggles.