“We play an important role in the search for peace”

PBI interviews Ivan Madero, member of the Regional Corporation for the Defence of Human Rights (CREDHOS). The organisation was created in 1987 and PBI has accompanied them since 1994. Because of his work in the defence of human rights Ivan has been threatened and been the victim of persecution until the point that he had to leave the country.

PBI: How did the social movement in Barrancabermeja appear?

IVÁN: The movement appeared because of the organisation of the rural communities and the population in general who were in search of a solution to their problems. It appeared in the seventies with the Organización Femenina Popular (Popular Women’s Organisation). However, many years before that, the trade union organisations were already working on these issues, for example the USO which is the oldest trade union not only in the region but also in the country.

PBI: What is the current situation of the social movement here in the Magdalena Medio region?

IVAN: Well that is a difficult question. The social movement in Magdalena Medio is like a series of cyclic curves, it has its ups and downs, but at the same time it has its achievements and the curves do eventually reach the top. We are the forefathers of everything that has been done at a social and political level in Barrancabermeja, even though history does not acknowledge this. At the moment the social movement is in low spirits.

At the beginning of 2000, with the paramilitary take over, the social movement was seriously debilitated. A lot of the organisations disappeared, many social leaders and important political leaders had to leave. Those that stayed had to keep a low profile.

This has allowed the social movement to remain, but today it is not so much a protagonist in the social processes that are happening and there is a limited relationship with the community and the general population. However, it still generates initiatives for the recognition of certain rights.

PBI: What role does CREDHOS have in the social movement?

IVÁN: I think that CREDHOS has always been important in the struggles for the search for a solution to the social problems that affect human rights in the region. Today we play an important role in the search for peace.

We have for the last two years been immersed in the construction of organic spaces that are collective, inclusive, group and community orientated, so that we can construct a unique initiative of territorial peace in the region. We have been appealing to the social movement to unify its criteria, opinions and efforts behind this.

This is because if we don’t achieve the unification of a common proposal, community driven and territorial, that everyone in the region identifies with; we will have a model of territorial peace imposed upon us. CREDHOS plays the role of intermediary in the search for construction of this space.

PBI: What are the goals for the organisation in the context of the peace negotiations in Havana?

IVAN:  We have managed to identify the points we want to work on, out of the list of points that they are negotiating in Havana. We are going to work on the points of victims and political participation. And the goal we want to achieve is being the promoters and verifiers of the implementation of the postconflict in Colombia.

PBI: What impacts do will there be in the region with the arrival of demobilised members of the FARC.

IVAN:  We have to learn to construct spaces of reconciliation, this is the big challenge for the social movement; we don’t know what the behaviour of the community or the combatants in social integration will be like, but we should join up to this idea, to create these scenarios.

PBI: What are your expectations for PBI in the context of peace in the country?

IVÁN: That they continue accompanying us. I think that the presence of the international community is key in the oversight and the guarantees of the implementation of all these agreements, without the international community it will be very difficult to construct our models of peace in the region.

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