What is more desired that development?
It is odd for someone to say that they don’t want development. Yet, the Peace Community of San José de Apartado has been labeled as “anti-development.” Made up of peasants who were displaced and dispossessed in the 1990s by paramilitary actions, the community now represents territorial resistance and protection in a neutral zone amid the armed conflict, And, in fact, in a way it could be said that the community is anti-development, opposing the concept of “extractivist” development. A development that encourages a draining of the river and depleting natural resources at the expense of the environment. This article will lay out some of the socio-political, environmental, and systematic impacts and violence that the Peace Community’s life project has resisted, opposed, and denounced to build peaceful collective spaces amid the armed conflict.
Continue reading What Development Are We Talking About?
February 21 commemorated the Mulatos and La Resbalosa massacre perpetrated by the XVII Brigade of the Army and the United Self-defense Forces of Colombia (AUC, in Spanish) paramilitary group, in which eight individuals were killed, seven of whom were members of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó and three of whom were minors. In 2005, during Operation Fénix, around 60 paramilitary members, together with army troops, assassinated Peace Community leader, Luis Eduardo Guerra and his family in the hamlet of Mulatos, and then killed the family of Alfonso Bolívar, a leader of the Resbalosa humanitarian zone. Since then, this day is remembered each year in the rural communities, as an act of memory and to denounce the ongoing impunity in the country.
Continue reading The Peace Community: Impunity and Paramilitary Control
Eighteen years ago, an event took place that profoundly impacted the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó: the Massacre of Mulatos and La Resbalosa, during which eight people, three of them minors, were cruelly murdered. This massacre, perpetrated by the XVII Brigade of the Colombian Army together with the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC), the paramilitary group that existed in the territory at the time, marked a milestone of separation with the State due to the lack of security guarantees and its responsibility for the impunity of these and other acts of violence that the Peace Community has faced since its creation.
The community, which declared itself a Peace Community on March 23rd 1997 as a strategy of resistance and survival in their territory in the midst of the armed conflict, has not ceased to be the target of acts of violence by both legal and illegal armed actors.
Now, with the strength and determination accumulated over years of resistance and struggle, the Community paid tribute to the 8 people murdered, 7 of whom were members of the Peace Community: Luis Eduardo Guerra, Bellanira Areiza, Deiner Guerra, Alfonso Bolívar Tuberquia, Sandra Muñoz, Natalia Tuberquia Muñoz and Santiago Tuberquia Muñoz.
In this commemorative and solemn act, the children of the Peace Community sang songs to remember their lost family members. Each member, physically absent, yet inevitably present in the collective memory to continue defending the land and demanding justice, was remembered.
Continue reading 18 years since the Massacre of Mulatos and La Resbalosa
My First Ten Days as an Accompanier with the Urabá Team (PBI Colombia)
I am Itsaso and part of the PBI field team in Urabá. I am 31 years old. Yep… I am one of the oldest team members and am feeling nostalgic, happy and proud of myself for everything I have done over the last almost seven months as a part of the Urabá field team. I felt so many emotions, uncertainty, doubts, fears, and eagerness when I got here that I want to look back, remember those first days, and try to feel them again. So, I will light a bit of incense, make a cup of tea, and give myself a little massage before I start remembering and initiate this trip through time. I think about why I began this new project… to learn up close about the resistance and struggles of human rights defenders and, from my position and work with PBI, to accompany these initiatives to build a more peaceful world.
Ready, set… Here we go!
Continue reading Diary of a PBI volunteer
The Atrato River starts in the Plateado Hills of the western mountain range in Antioquia. This river, which crosses the departments of Chocó and Antioquia before flowing into the Gulf of Urabá, is one of the region’s most abundant rivers and an irrefutable source of life. It is also one of the areas hardest hit by the armed conflict. In particular, the Bajo Atrato, and the Urabá subregion have registered around 429,820 victims of forced displacement, dispossession, and selective murders, among other serious human rights violations.
The actions of the banana, palm oil, and mining industries, tied to armed actors, have contributed to a dispossession of ethnic communities from their lands amid grave state omissions relative to protection guarantees. Dispossession suffered by the communities of the Bajo Atrato has a common denominator, a violation of their ancestral rights and environmental impacts on their lands. Additionally, there has been violence against men and women land claimant leaders, like Mario Castaño, murdered five years ago, on 26 November 2017, on his farm in the Larga and Tumaradó river basins (Bajo Atrato).
Continue reading Guacamayas: “Simply Staying on the Land”