“For me, being a human rights defender is about defending life and defending territory. It is the collective struggle of all people. Here in Colombia we human rights defenders suffer serious stigmatisation, they tell us that we are against development, but that is not true… we just want the lives of all people to be respected, and for development to be built collectively. That is why winning the Nobel Peace Prize would be a huge support for our work, which includes building a truly peaceful society.
A peaceful society is for me is a place where we can all co-exist together, despite the fact that we may think differently, that we accept different viewpoints and build collectively without attacking each other. It is the struggle to live a dignified life in our lands.”
Doña Brígida is one of the founders and a longstanding leader of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó. For the Community, it is important to build historical memory so that there is no repetition of the violent incidents they faced to remain in their territory, in spite of the violence. Doña Brígida uses art to build historical memory and her paintings tell the stories of 21 years of peaceful resistance.
Some tell happy stories like returns to villages, community life, tending the cacao crops, but some also recount tragedies including massacres and displacements. At present she is painting a picture telling the story of a massacre that took place in the village of La Unión on 8 July 2000; when the Colombian army and paramilitaries entered the village and killed six people from the community who had recently returned to their lands. “Despite all the attacks we have suffered, we stay here and we continue the struggle, and we will always stand upright, fighting for our rights, because without our rights we are all dead.”