In mid-December 2015, we accompanied the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission (CIJP) to the Wounaan indigenous hamlet of Unión Agua Clara, located on the banks of the San Juan river, in Valle del Cauca department.
In November 2014 the whole community found itself forced to flee to the port of Buenaventura for reasons connected with the armed conflict: the presence of illegal armed groups, military operations, and their location in a strategic corridor for drug trafficking, among other reasons.
CIJP has been accompanying this community during their relocation in Buenaventura’s indoor arena, where families slept on the floor for months; a space alien to them, with no river to fish and play in, no land to cultivate, no rain-forest to hunt in.
Two weeks ago, the whole community (about 645 people) returned to their land, declaring it Humanitarian and Biodiversity Territory in the hope of remaining there in peace.
After having accompanied CIJP to the arena and stayed with the Wounaan on several occasions, it was a very emotional moment to see them enjoying the river they had missed all this time.
Sadly enough, it seems as though the same scenario is repeating itself; part of the community has left Unión Agua Clara to return to Buenaventura due to threats from neoparamilitaries, in addition to the lack of conditions and guarantees for a dignified and safe return, according to the community and CIJP.