Cahucopana

More than three hundred family farmers from Northeastern Antioquia decided in 2004 to create the Corporación Acción Humanitaria para la Convivencia y la Paz del Nordeste Antioqueño (Cahucopana).  The organisation was born in the midst of a humanitarian crisis due to the economic blockades and confinement imposed by legal and illegal armed actors, and the humanitarian actions to raise awareness about the situation and search for responses, which were organised by the farmers and which Cahucopana also took part in.

Its main mission is to report on the humanitarian crisis and generate spaces for training in how to defend and promote the human rights of small-scale farmers. Cahucopana develops activities for communities to strengthen their organisational abilities, supports the Community Action Boards (JACCs), trains and builds capacities  of leaders and communities on human rights and international humanitarian law, and denounce human rights violations by all the armed actors and private companies. The Corporation has taken on an important leadership role in the region, and represents the power of the communities’ resistance to so many years of violence. Its work benefits around 500 people, and 2,000 additional people who live in the communities where they carry out their activities.

Nordeste Antioqueño

Participation in platforms and collaboration with other organisations

Cahucopana is part of the Colombia-Europe-United States Coordination, Marcha Patriotica and the Agrarian Summit. It is part of the Agro-mining Coordination in the Northwest and Magdalena Medio, which the Asociación Campesina del Valle del Río Cimitarra (Acvc), Aheramigua, the San Jose de Apartado Peace Community and Ríos Vivos also take part in.

Northeastern Antioquia

Northeastern Antioquia has lived through systematic violence. Its communities have suffered blockades to prevent food and medicine getting through by all the armed actors, both legal and illegal, since 1998, which increased between 2002 and 2005.[1]  As a result, between 2004 and 2006, farmers and social organisations carried  out humanitarian actions to raise awareness about the situation. In 2005 Luis Sigifredo Castaño and was later presented as a guerrilla killed in combat.[2] This event marked the beginning of extrajudicial executions in Northeastern Antioquia.

Thousands of families from the region have lived off artisanal mining for centuries, mainly gold mining.  The small-scale miners live in the midst of conflict and utterly abandoned by the state, on the minimal production yielded by their mines.  According to the plans in Proyecto Visión Colombia 2019, the mining area in Northeastern Antioquia will be the principal mining district for increasing access by multinationals and reducing artisanal mining. The arrival of large companies became a reality at the end of 2010, when 70 mines were closed and 118 people were detained in relation to informal mining in the area.[3]

Cahocupana Cañaveral masacre


Tales from the field: Furrows with seeds of peace (May 2017)

Regions: Social organisations concerned by escalation of armed conflict in Northeastern Antioquia (June 2017)


Cahucopana’s work

Cahucopana is defined by its work of reporting about the armed conflict in Northeastern Antioquia. An important result of their work was the destitution of seven high-ranking officers of the Calibio Battalion of the 14th Brigade in 2008 and the opening of an investigation into several low ranking soldiers for the murder of several farmers and charges of extrajudicial executions.[4]

Cahocupana

Cahucopana has worked with women on economic autonomy, and has also supported setting up women’s committees to deal with gender issues and empower them to take on leadership roles in peace building.  As a result, women in the region created the Regional Coordination of Women in Northeastern Antioquia.[5]

Cahuchopana

Cahucopana has been involved in the peace process between the Government and the FARC. It has organised educational workshops in hamlets around Northeastern Antioquia. It has also taken an important role in preparing Carrizal as a Rural Transitional Normalisation Zone, where the demobilisation of fronts 4, 24 (Madgalena Medio Block) and 37 (Caribe Block) of the FARC is taking place. [6] Alongside the ACVC, they maintain continuous dialogue with State institutions about security conditions for the community and demand that public services be installed in the area.  In August 2016, Cahucopana and the ACVC submitted a report to the Tripartite Monitoring and Verification Mechanism which expressed concerns, proposals and requirements for cohabitation in the Rural Zone.

Cahucopana has led the educational process about the peace agreements and prepared the community to receive the FARC guerrillas in the process of giving up their weapons. It also proposed the creation of the Comité de Impulso Territorial which would verify the implementation of the agreements and monitor the human rights situation.

Threats and attacks

Cahucopana has been targeted by smear campaigns, death threats, harassment and assassinations since it was created.  From 2016, its members received verbal threats and written threats in leaflets that were circulated in the region. Their members have also been arbitrarily detained and retained,[7]  and subjected to empadronamiento, the irregular gathering of their personal information by Security Forces.[8] Currently,  Cahucopana’s members who do field work are the most at risk, a situation which is related to the increase in neo-paramilitary groups in Northeastern Antioquia.[9]

Cahucopana has been lobbying to raise awareness of the neo-paramilitary presence and the absence of guarantees for leaders and farmers in Northeastern Antioquia.  The FARC’s departure has produced a vacuum that is being filled by other armed groups, which threaten the communities and the construction of genuine peace.

Protection measures

Some members of Cahucopana have individual and collective protection schemes from the National Protection Unit (UNP) and trusted bodyguards they have been able to choose themselves.

In October 2016, Cahucopana requested new protection measures from the UNP.  It requested collective measures “to the extent that the subject at risk in this scenario is not exclusively made up of community and mining leaders, but also includes the farming and mining communities as a whole”. It also requested differential measures “taking into account that our sphere of action is principally the rural areas in different municipalities and traditional measures are neither adequate nor sufficient to mitigate our risk, which is increased by the confinement we are living in, which makes reaction more difficult.” [10]

International Accompaniment

Cahucopana has been accompanied by PBI since 2013.

CahucopanaAcompañamiento Cahucopana Amalfi Noviembre 2016


Footnotes:

[1] Project Counselling Service (PCS): Comunidades confinadas en el nordeste antioqueño, 11 May 2005
[2] Noche y Niebla: Deuda con la humanidad 2 – 23 años de Falsos Positivos (1988-2011), 31 October 2011
[3] PBI Colombia: Minería artesanal en el Nordeste Antioqueño, en: Minería en Colombia – ¿a qué precio? November 2011
[4] Human Rights Watch: El rol de los altos mandos en falsos positivos, 23 June 2015
[5] Coordinación Nacional de Organizaciones Agrarias y Populares: Exitoso tercer encuentro de mujeres del nordeste antioqueño, 11 September 2016
[6] Cahucopana: Saludo a designación de vereda del nordeste como ZVTN, 22 August 2016
[7] Prensa Rural: Defensor de derechos humanos de Cahucopana fue retenido ilegalmente por la policía, 24 March 2017
[8] Prensa Rural: Empadronamiento a esquema colectivo de protección de Cahucopana, 18 March 2017
[9] Contagio Radio: Fuerte arremetida paramilitar en el Nordeste antioqueño, 8 May 2017
[10] Cahucopana: Medidas solicitadas por Cahucopana a la Unidad Nacional de Protección, October 2016

making space for peace

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