Since his inauguration, the new president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, has stated that the “Total Peace” policy is one of his priorities. The policy seeks to open dialogues and demobilize all illegal armed structures. Since then, four of these groups have declared a ceasefire and, in November 2022, negotiations was reinstated with the ELN guerrilla (National Liberation Army), which had been suspended during the Iván Duque administration. A bill to bring the other armed structures before the justice system is also planned. The government defines these groups as “high impact criminal groups,” that lack a political character and these would include structures that arose out of paramilitarism, such as the Gaitan Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AGC, in Spanish).
The people of Buenaventura have been experiencing an escalation of the conflict since 2020. Today, all eyes are on the port city, because since last December 30, the lives of 170,500 people are at risk due to clashes between “Los Shotas” and “Los Espartanos”, two factions of “La Local”, a group inherited from paramilitarism. So far in 2021, according to the Pacific Regional Ombudsman’s Office, due to more than 38 confrontations that have taken place in the urban area of Buenaventura in January, 907 families – around 2186 people – have had to be forcibly displaced from their neighborhoods and 22 people have been killed, mostly young people between 16 and 35 years old who have refused to be recruited by these groups.
With indignation, Berenice Celeita spoke about the poverty and violence that she sees every day. Continue reading “The pandemic changed everything,” Berenice Celeita
In May 2017, the people of Buenaventura took to the streets to demand better living conditions and a fulfillment of their basic rights. After 22 days of peaceful protests Continue reading 2017: Buenaventura’s Civic Strike
Buenaventura is a region inhabited by an Afro-descendant, indigenous and mixed ethnicity population and is the largest urban and economic hub on the Colombian Pacific Coast. Continue reading Defending the voice of the Afro communities: Leyla Arroyo