Resisting on their lands

The Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission (CIJP) advises and accompanies the Wounaan Nonam community of Santa Rosa de Guayacan (a rural area near Buenaventura on the Calima river) since 2010, after a paramilitary incursion in the region forced the community to abandon their homes and take refuge in the urban area of Buenaventura.

In photographs: The Nonam community and its resistance

Once they arrived in Buenaventuura, children, adults and elderly people lived in overcrowded hostels for over a year in “subhuman” health and hygiene conditions, according to Father Alberto Franco, a member of CIJP.[1] In June 2011, the IACHR ordered precautionary protection measures in favour of 21 Wounaan Nonam families and asked the Colombian State to “adopt the necessary measures to guarantee [their] life and physical integrity and […] their return to the Santa Rosa de Guayacan Indigenous Reservation in conditions of dignity and security”.[2]

Women leaders: Between the jungle and the city

With CIJP’s accompaniment, the community returned to its land in August 2011 and declared it a Humanitarian and Biodiverse Reservation, thereby prohibiting the entrance of any armed actor.[3] This land is collectively held and they share it with afro-descendant communities.

In photographs: Once again the Nonam People find themselves caught in the middle of armed conflict

Nonetheless, between 2014 and 2015, thousands of indigenous people were displaced from the region due to the constant presence of paramilitary and guerrilla groups in the area.[4] In 2014, glyphosate fumigations of coca crops in the region[5] destroyed food crops and affected the inhabited areas of the Humanitarian and Biodiverse Reservation of Santa Rosa de Guayacan, causing crops and animals to die, and health problems for people in the community.[6]

Stories from the field: El pueblo nonam celebra el retorno a su tierra


[1] PBI Colombia: Interview with Father Alberto Franco, 22nd July 2011
[2] Inter-American Commission on Human Rights: MC 355/10 – 21 familias de la zcomunidad Nonam del pueblo indígena Wounaan, Colombia, 2011
[3] El Tiempo: La tribu que le hace frente a la violencia, 12th January 2015
[4] UNHCR: Prevención, respuesta inmediata y soluciones, November 2014
[5] The San Juan delta is one of the regions with the largest areas of illicit crops grown in Choco department, a region constantly disputed by armed actors whose main interest is these crops, and which is crossed by important drug trafficking routes to the Pacific. Fundación Ideas para la Paz: Lo que esconden las cifras, 15th February 2015
[6] El Tiempo: La tribu que le hace frente a la violencia, 12th January 2015; Cijp: Fumigación aérea con Glifosato en Santa Rosa de Guayacán, 6 thAugust 2014


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