The essence of the “vida campesina”

These are the stories of people who reflect Colombia’s diversity and who are united by the pain wrought by the armed conflict, and through a shared hope for a true and lasting peace.

A leader of a campesino farming community who were displaced from Mapiripan by paramilitaries in 2012, William Aljure is a spokesperson for the Community Network for Building Peace in the Territories (CONPAZ). “The most beautiful thing about living on a farm is breathing pure air, the silence, the tranquility, the parrots singing to you outside your window in the early morning. This is the essence of life for all campesinos. And for a campesino to have this taken away from him… it is like ripping out his soul”.

Nine of William’s relatives were murdered; however these horrific crimes have not been brought to justice. He became involved in CONPAZ to share his story with others who have had similar experiences and to fight against impunity.  People have called him stupid and crazy for wanting to defend the land.  But this tireless struggle to defend human rights, the water, the land, the morichal water-forests and the sacred lagoons, are part of what he calls his ‘beautiful madness’.  This beautiful madness is also what his grandfather and parents had, as well as Berta Cáceres and all those who fight and have fought to defend the precious environment that sustains us.

Delphine and Mario wrote the stories for the ‘Beautiful madness’ after a trip to the Naya river basin in June 2016.  During that journey they accompanied the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission (CIJP) and met with women and men from indigenous, Afro-descendant and farming communities from around Colombia, and witnessed the inauguration of the University for Peace’s first campus, the beginning of an initiative that seeks to generate initiatives that will bring peace to the territories.

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