The Pichimá Quebrada Wounaan Community Asks to Return to its Territory

There is abundance in the Pichimá Quebrada reservation, located on the shores of the Bajo San Juan River. There are medicinal plants to cure the sick, fruits and crops to satiate the hungry, water to drink, spacious houses for each family, and the sacred sites of the Wounaan people, who have lived in this area since time immemorial.

Facing violence and the armed confrontation that took place in this area in early June,[1] the community decided to leave their reservation and displace to Santa Genoveva de Docordó to protect their lives. It was not the first time. In 2016, they had to displace due to combat between illegal armed actors. However, this time was even more painful because of everything they experienced that Sunday in June and due to the challenges they continue to face,[2] according to information made public during the Verification Mission organized by the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission.


Today, 417 Wounaan people of all ages live in conditions of overcrowding, with no access to basic services, and divided between three shelters in the village.[3] During a meeting with the community, a representative indicated that “in this displacement we are facing very difficult times, especially the women and children. It is affecting our health, education, and our traditions, we cannot continue here, outside of our territory. Some steps have been taken, but it is not enough. We are asking for the relevant institutions to come and fulfill their commitments to us, as a displaced community, and so we can return to our territory. We do not want this to happen again, like in our first displacement in 2016, when we returned without security guarantees.”


In addition to verifying the conditions for the Wounaan people’s in Docordó, the Verification Mission accompanied community representatives who went back to the Pichimá Quebrada reservation. They returned to the reservation for the first time since June, where you can see the impact of the confrontation: trees with bullet holes, bullet shells, and the remains of explosive devices. Some impacts are not immediately visible: ruined harvests, land overgrown with weeds, and a group of domestic dogs that have survived, waiting for people to return to the community.



“We cannot leave the mother earth alone. She, and the forests, are used to having us here and they are sad,” indicated Wounaan people during the visit. “This is our territory and we do not want to abandon our mother earth, our sacred sites. Our governance system is affected when we are not on our reservations. It is difficult to meet and that damages the authority. We want to return, we want a return plan that guarantees that this will not happen again.”

“This scar will not fade. But the wound can heal little by little,” said a Wounaan woman.

“If there is a peace agreement in Colombia, why does this continue happening? We would like the politicians and senators to see this. We are the lungs of Colombia and other nations. We take care of the air. But they do not take this into account if they continue allowing the indigenous people and peasant farmers to be displaced.”

Santiago Mera, of CIJP, stated: behind the organizations who participated in the Verification Mission are many others, from many countries, who will know that the Pichimá Quebrada reservation exists and what has happened. “Your testimony as a displaced community is a reminder that the war continues and affects you,” he emphasized.

Santiago y Javi_blog

Laura Carrasco


[1] Contagio Radio, Pichima Quebrada, dos veces desterrada por la guerra, 3 July 2019

[2] Contagio Radio: Faltan garantías del Estado para retorno de Comunidad Wounaan, 26 August 2019

[3] Ibid.

Leave a Reply