Whilst the negotiations in Havana continue with the promise of a signed agreement between the Farc and the governmnet, the country is preparing itself for a new and unknown phase, peace in Colombia.
But what does peace really mean? Such a simple has been the topic of huge debates throughout the country and requires a complex and well articulated answer.
Disarmament and the end of bombing campaigns? Reparations for the victims? Guarentees of non-repetition of violations? Social justice? The fulfillment of economic, social and cultural rights? The defense of territory and of nature? These and other questions are examples of the topics that were discussed and debated in the Political Training School Andrés Flores.
PBI acompanied the Campsino Association of the Cimitarra river valley (ACVC), whilst they participated in the Political Training School Andrés Flores. We travelled to the beautiful village of Cagui on the San Lorenzo Lake in the municipality of Cantagallo (South of Bolivar), where we stayed for five days with the community, eating fresh fish from the lake and listening to the various opinions from the campesinos who have been hit the hardest by the violence throughout the war in Colombia, and their hopes for 2016.
The event brought together various social organisations from the Magdalena Medio to think together about possible scenarios, challenges and difficulties they may come up against this year. Each had their distinct focus and sometimes they had contrasting opinions, but they share a vision of a new Colombia in peace with social justice and an end to the violence that has destroyed so many lives in the country.
They analised the peace agreements, taking each organisation and each process that is being carried out in the region, thinking about the strengths and weaknesses of each and how best to confront them and imrpove their work. They discussed peace models that work well in the region and how they could be dublicated to benefit more people.
The Acvc is assuming an imporant role in training and education in the regions they work in. The idea is not only to train people in the important topics such as organisational principles, gender and the Colombian institutional system; but also to explain to people what is happening with the negotiations in Havana and listen to the fears, hopes and ideas of campesinos so that they feel owenership of the process and can participate and take active part in the transformation of their country, from conflict to peace.
The tone of the event was optimistic yet cautious. As Cesar Jerez from the National Asociation of the Campesino Reserve Zones (Anzorc) mentioned, “the Colombian left wing have a lot of experience in resistance and struggle, but really we dont really know what to expect in an environment of peace, something completely unknown for all of us working in these areas”.
The challenge in 2016, for the Acvc and many other social orgaisations is to reach every corner of Colombia and convince the people that a true and sustainable peace is only possible with their active participation, in the defense of their territories and lives.
PBI accompanies these organisations that promote a negotiated solution to the armed conflict and the construction of peace of Colombia.