The marshes are bodies of water that are essential to the ecosystem, bodies of water which give life to extraordinary flora and fauna. These natural phenomena also attract economic interests that threaten to damage them, even to make them disappear, as is the case with the rivers and marshes of Magdalena Medio. In this region, full of water and environmental defenders, extractive activities, agribusiness and extensive cattle ranching are advancing, devastating in their path territories inhabited by ancestral communities, in the case of Sur de Bolívar especially Afro-Colombian peoples, peasants and artisanal fishermen.
We are all in a continuous dialogue with our surroundings, everything that happens around us generates a response in our thoughts, emotions, and sensations. These are like speakers, indicating if we require warmth, are thirsty, or need to place limits in the face of something uncomfortable. Sensations and emotions are our first source of input to make ourselves feel well. Humans are far from machines that can do anything, we are vulnerable beings. This means that we are bodies that become ill, can learn, wake up with energy, and go to bed tired, we laugh, fall in love, get hungry or cold, we need hugs and to be listened to, we die. This vulnerability is not synonymous with weakness. On the contrary, it makes us into living beings that are connected to the ecosystem and with knowledge of our lives and the capacity to decide what we needed.
Since we are also interdependent, we do not satisfy these needs alone, but depend on those around us: a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a teammate, a partner, a neighbor, or even someone we have met on the street. That is why it is important to know how to check in with our feelings, to know what we need, and to communicate this with others. However, it is not just interdependence that contributes to care. Contexts of sociopolitical violence can systematically put our needs into question, not only as inividuals but also communities, meaning that we cannot respond to our needs and are constantly generating dissatisfaction and emotions such as fear, frustration, anger, or hopelessness.
Sociopolitical violence attacks our individual bodies and our territories, which are always connected as is noted by Latin American feminists when they speak of the “body territory”. Hence, sociopolitical violence attacks the social fabric, seeking to break trust and ties between individuals and that is done through fear, stress, and hopelessness, among other forms. If we become afraid to act, act on impulse without evaluating our needs, become isolated, or believe that nothing can change, we are experiencing manifestations of fear’s emotional strategy. Attacking the body, mind, and heart of individuals and communities is a clear element. A pained body, tensions that last years, a mind full of concerns, and a hopeless heart are part of this formula of fear, as a tool of war. Violence produces all of this in us, with major impacts on our health and the strength of the connections that we create.
What can we do in response? We propose focusing on care, even though this is often difficult. Care does not mean always feeling good, it is not just about laying down to rest, it is everything we do to address adverse situations. Within this concept of care, it is fundamental to protect the body, mind, and heart since all violence impacts us on those levels. Body, mind, and heart are always united and what affects one affects the rest. From PBI’s holistic protection work, we want to emphasize some care practices that we have seen in our work in Colombia.
We offer a warm welcome to our seven new field brigadistas who collectively reflected on their arrival
“As new volunteers, we have finished the selection process and initial training to join our field teams. Even though this means that the group that arrived together had to divide up, we have stayed in contact, talking about our different integration experiences, the diversity of perspectives we have, and how we are building relationships with the people we accompany and our teammates. The group has shown a common interest in and commitment to accompanying and learning from the people, organizations, and communities that defend human rights and have been accompanied by PBI over the last 28 years”.
Between 24 and 27 February, PBI Colombia held a Gathering of Women Defenders in La Vega. Women leaders and defenders participated from throughout the Colombian territory.
The women are active in peaceful resistance with the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó (Antioquía)they are leaders from the Peasant Association of the Cimitarra River Valley (ACVC), the Humanitarian Action Corporation for Coexistence and Peace in Northeast Antioquia (CAHUCOPANA), the Regional Corporation for the Defense of Human Rights (CREDHOS), and the Social Corporation for Community Advisory and Training Services (COSPACC), all of which are emblematic organizations that work for the rights of the peasantry and communities affected by the armed conflict in the Magdalena Medio, Northeast of Antioquia, and Casanare. They are women involved in the struggle and relatives of victims of forced disappearance from Buenaventura, with the Movement of Victims of State Crimes (MOVICE), and from Bogotá the Nydia Erika Bautista Foundation (FNEB). As well as women human rights lawyers from Bucaramanga, Bogotá, and Medellín—from the Luis Carlos Pérez Lawyers’ Collective (CCALCP), Dh Colombia, and the Corporation for Judicial Freedom (CJL), Ties of Dignity (Lazos con Dignidad) and the Feminist Scheme for the Protection of Human Rights (Esquema Feminista de Protección de Derechos Humanos)—which defend victims of state crimes and police violence and they accompany initatives that propose peace from the regions. All of them, diverse women, came together in that diversity and united their struggles and protection tools in a collective, transformative effort that called collective memory into the present.
PBI Colombia would like to announce a call for applications to our 2022 Training Encounter
Applications will be accepted until June 5th, 2022. All applications (with references) received until this date will be considered for the training and selection process leading to a training and selection encounter to be determined at a future date, which will take place in Spain.
More information here (Spanish language only)