We offer a warm welcome to our three new field brigadistas who will accompany human rights defenders and organizations from the Apartado and Barrancabermeja Teams
“Recognizing our histories and the histories from our territories, we wish to walk together with the processes that try to elaborate new narratives in which the pain and the violence seek to become a route for justice and dignity of peoples.
As PBI’s field brigades, we want to learn and accompany people and organizations that seek to cultivate a collective and common peace to re-exist from the diversity”.
We offer a warm welcome to our seven new field brigadistas who will accompany human rights defenders and organizations from the Apartado, Barrancabermeja and Bogota Teams
“Two weeks ago we arrived in Bogotá. Seven people of different nationalities, with different backgrounds and perspectives, but all with the same desire to continue strengthening PBI’s Colombia project. It’s interesting to learn from PBI’s 30 years in Colombia and how it’s international character plays a role in defence of human rights, acting as a bridge between the civil society organizations, human rights defenders, and the international community. Behind two intense weeks of training, it is hard to be separated, but we are full of enthusiasm to arrive in the field and get to work.”
Human rights and social movements are unique experiences that would be impossible without groups of people coming together with a common aim. Social struggles and the defense of human rights are inevitably collective. Why? Because the systems of power—capitalist, heteropatriarchal, and colonial—and socio-political violence are too tenacious to face alone. Collectively we can discover that the impacts of violence are more common than we had imagined. What I experience may also experienced by my colleague, and this helps free us from the guilt or discomfort that arises from the fact that we feel affected. And because the human rights violations we fight touch a collective fiber, beyond a specific damage, beyond the victimizing act, they move our sense of humanity.
It is common to hear that defending human rights can cause deep feelings of isolation, which can sometimes be alleviated through acts of solidarity, camaraderie, and alliances. Psychosocial accompaniment takes into account this solitude, places it at the center, creates a framework of understanding, and seeks to transform it. In this context, loneliness is easily tied to hopelessness. If I feel alone, I don’t see myself as capable and if I don’t see myself as capable, I stop believing in what I want to achieve. One of the main objectives of sociopolitical violence is precisely to divide, to create feelings of loneliness, incapacity, and hopelessness. What can we do to not fall into despair? How can we build hope? This is one of the big questions. A possible answer is: believe in and strengthen the collective, the process, so that they can provide balance for our wavering sense of humanity.
For decades Catatumbo has been the epicenter of sociopolitical violence and armed conflict. The region encompasses ten municipalities in the department of Norte de Santander, on the Venezuelan border. The 2016 signature of the Peace Agreement brought hope of peace and a dignified life for the communities. However, the lack of its comprehensive implementation has obstructed addressing the armed conflict’s structural causes and has left communities at the mercy of intensifying violence. The Luis Carlos Pérez Lawyers Collective (CCALCP)—a group of women lawyers and human rights defenders with 22 years of experience defending human rights—is one of the organizations that accompanies the Catatumbo Peasant Association (ASCAMCAT) and the peasant communities of Catatumbo, whom they represent through strategic litigation to demand compliance with the Peace Agreement.
According to Julia Figueroa, president of the lawyers collective, the peasant communities of Catatumbo have experienced a violation of their rights due to non-compliance with the Peace Agreement and, in particular, due to the humanitarian and economic crisis caused by non-compliance with the National Comprehensive Program for Illicit Use Crop Substitution (PNIS) established in point 4 of the Agreement. Specifically, the Government promised to implement the PNIS to generate the material conditions for well-being and a good life in communities that subsist on illicit use crops, as is stipulated in point 4.1. The population that CCALCP represents is part of the first PNIS pilot plan, which began in 2017 in four rural communities of Tibú (Catatumbo), these are: Caño Indio, Palmeras Mirador, Chiquinquirá, and Progreso 2.
PBI Colombia’s accompaniment is fundamental, since the organizations and communities carry out high risk activities, either due to the complexity of the regions where they work or the issues they address. Continue reading Walking with the defenders→