In the months of May and June of 1992 an exploratory team from Peace Brigades International (PBI) arrived in Colombia with the task of investigating the posibility of opening a project in the country. This visit came about following various petitions from individuals and Colombian organisations that suffered attacks, false accusations and threats as a result of their labour in the defense of human rights. Following this mission, the team presented a report to the international office of PBI that concluded: “During our work in the Exploratory Team we have received a great deal of support from various people, organisations and institutions, that has been fundamental in order to complete our work. We are sure that this support would also be extended to a permanent team in Colombia, and our assessment is, until now, PBI hasn’t ever encountered such extensive backing (at a local and international level) to be able to start a possible project in a country”.
In 1994 we opened offices in Bogota and Barrancabermeja and started to accompany the Association of Families of Disappeared Detainees (ASFADDES), The Intercongregational Commission of Justice and Peace (CIJP) and the Regional Corporation for the Defense of Human Rights. In the course of these past 25 years, we have accompanied some 30 human rights organisations that have suffered threats for the simple fact that they defend and revindicate such basic rights as the right to life, to social protest, property and land rights, and the right to peace.
To commemorate this international accompaniment, we are presenting a series of videos that attempt to summarise the impossible: 25 years of PBI in Colombia. For each year, and each video, we have sought the help of a person who has been, or still is, accompanied by PBI. We asked them to tell their stories, and to explain what was happening in Colombia and what the accompaniment of PBI meant in that context.
Before we start to publish the videos, we’d like to suggest that you watch a short but significative video that shows, in a small part, how we carry out physical accompaniment in rural parts of Colombia. Obviously there are many other ways that we carry out physical and political accompaniment, in addition to the work that we do in terms of visibilisation, advocacy, and social and psychological support in the reconstruction of social fabric.
We would like to thank each and every person and organisation that has trusted in us, everyone that has dreamed with us and who has been part of this great project. Thank you to Javier Bauluz for the energy, time and care that he has put into each video and for the time he spent with us during filming, and to Helena Manrique for her support in creating the video content. Additionally, thank you to the Cooperation Agency of Extremadura (AEXCID) whose support allowed us to create this work. We hope that you enjoy the videos as much as we have!