Read the river and the sea

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.

Born in the indigenous reservation Eperara Siapidara in the Naya river, Jose Vianney Chirimia Dura remembers the time when he had to run from his land: “in April 2001, we heard that the paramilitaries were coming down, killing anyone in their path”. In the midst of all the fear, the whole community fled to Buenaventura.  When they came back eight months later, almost everything had been lost:  “With the fear you don’t take anything with you. When we came back, some of the houses had fallen down, the seeds and the animals had died”.  With time, the community has been rebuilding. Jose, as well as being very dynamic in the organisational work, is an excellent navigator; he can read the river and the sea down to the smallest detail.  Conscious that it is the great natural richness of his land which caused it to be coveted by transnational economic interests, he aspires for the Naya communities to continue, united, to defend their land rights.

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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