Where is the Peace?

10 December 2021

On Human Rights Day, PBI Colombia commemorates all the defenders who demand respect for their rights, those who fight against impunity and in favor of truth, justice, and guarantees of non-repetition. We celebrate women who confront multiple forms of violence due to their status as female leaders. We celebrate the Indigenous, Black, and Mestizo communities who resist from their territories and care for the foundations of life in the midst of the armed conflict and ecological crisis.

Today is a day for all those who are committed to a peaceful and socially just Colombia. We commemorate those who are no longer here, their lives snuffed out for having raised their voices. While threats and attacks against defenders persist, it is necessary to continue accompanying and listening to their courageous testimonies. With this in mind, we interviewed several defenders and leaders who spoke to us from their territories about a peace that has not yet been achieved.

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Four years ago you were wanted dead, Hernán Bedoya

December 08, 2017. Hernán Bedoya, was returning to his farm in the Mi Tierra Humanitarian Zone in the Bajo Atrato region of Chocó, when he was assassinated with 14 shots. Along with him, they intended to kill his clear and firm voice, [1] with which he denounced the progress and impacts of the palm oil and banana agribusinesses that looked to extend into the collective territory of Pedeguita y Mancilla. Hernán wanted to talk about what was happening in the territory from which he had been displaced, and to which he had managed to return despite the presence of paramilitaries. This is how we at PBI came to know him, fighting for his land and dignity, when we accompanied the Justice and Peace Commission (JyP) in Bajo Atrato.

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Indigenous communities of Murindó: Defending life and their ancestral lands

In August, PBI accompanied the Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission in the indigenous community of Chageradó, located in the Río Chageradó reservation in the municipality of Murindó. There, an assembly was held between authorities and members of the eleven communities of the two resguardo of the municipality, Río Chageradó and Río Murindó. One of the main topics of this meeting was how to tackle the problem of land mines that are affecting the whole municipality. They also discussed how to preserve the model of ancestral life of the Emberá indigenous communities, their rights and their sacred land.

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WALKING THE PATHS OF PEACE: COMMUNITY WORK AS LIFE AND RESISTANCE

Every Thursday, community work is carried out in the villages of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó (CdP).  This guarantees the food sovereignty of the members of this community, through the cultivation and care of the collective land.  Some of the products grown are typical of Colombian farmer culture: rice, maize, yucca, bananas and cocoa. The cultivation, as well as the process of harvesting and subsequent processing of the product, is carried out in a natural way, without the use of machinery or chemical products that are harmful to the environment. This community work stands out for its deep connection with and respect for nature and the territory.  Even the animals are protagonists and faithful companions in this process.  Donkeys, mules and horses are the favourite means of transport because of their strength and endurance on the paths immersed in the vegetation of the region. The human being, the land and the animals are therefore elements of the same circle that strengthen each other.

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making space for peace